ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Prison tailor Joyce Mitchell, who helped two killers escape from a maximum-security facility in northern New York in 2015, was denied her first bid for early release on Monday, with a state parole board saying that despite her good conduct behind bars she probably would break the law again if she were freed.
Mitchell had a parole hearing last week at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County. In its decision released Monday, the board said Mitchell's release would be "incompatible with the welfare of society."
The 52-year-old Mitchell was sentenced to 2-1/3 to 7 years in prison for helping murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat escape in June 2015 from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, near the Canadian border. She had supervised them in the prison's tailor shop.
Three weeks into a massive manhunt, Matt was killed by searchers in woods west of the prison. Sweat was shot and captured two days later near the border.
The parole board said Mitchell was "emotionally unstable and easily manipulated," which allowed the inmates to talk her into helping them escape.
"You allowed your common sense and supervisory duties to be compromised by developing unprofessional relationships with Matt and Sweat," the parole board wrote.
The board chastised her for not telling anyone about the escape as it was happening and for failing to give a full, truthful disclosure of information to investigators or even to the parole board.
The board said it considered letters of support written by Mitchell's husband, Lyle, their son and others who described her "positive qualities." But it questioned the propriety of her stated goal to work in criminal justice again after her release.
Mitchell smuggled hacksaw blades and other tools to the inmates, who used them to cut through a steel cell wall and several steam pipes to make an escape route to a manhole outside the prison walls.