A prison worker who helped two men escape a maximum security prison in upstate New York last June was sentenced to up to seven years in prison on Monday. The woman sobbed through the court session and begged the judge for forgiveness. She said that she did not want anyone to get hurt in the prison break.
On July 28, the woman pleaded guilty to two charges relating to the escape of David Sweat and Richard Matt. The escape triggered a three-week-long manhunt in the Adirondacks Mountains. Matt was shot and killed by authorities during the manhunt. Sweat was captured alive, and he is currently facing charges that he escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility.
The 52-year-old woman's 2-and-1/3 to 7-year prison sentence came as part of a plea deal. She admitted to having intimate relations with Matt and smuggling hacksaw blades and tools to Sweat and him to help them escape.
Was Afraid the Prisoners Would Kill Her
According to the original escape plan, the woman was going to be a getaway driver for the men, but she failed to show up for them. She had second thoughts after fearing that the men might try and kill her.
While crying in an interview with NBC's Matt Lauer, Joyce Mitchell said that the men would not have needed her once they had the car and she did not plan on showing up. "I just got in over my head," she said.
Judge Said She Could Have Stopped the Escape at Any Time
During court proceedings Mitchell revealed that she was afraid to stop helping the men. Still, the judge scolded Mitchell, saying that she could have averted the escape plan at any time, while getting protection for her family, simply by telling authorities about the impending escape conspiracy. Indeed, had she notified authorities in advance of acting on the plan, she could have escaped criminal punishment.
In addition to the prison sentence, Mitchell was also fined $6,000 during Monday's hearing. The state of New York will also seek additional restitution from the woman as compensation for the money it expended in the search for the men.
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