Parole Denied for Jail Tailor Who Helped Two Killers Escape

ALBANY (AP) -

Prison tailor Joyce Mitchell, who helped two killers escape from a maximum-security facility 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 was sentenced to 2-1/3 to 7 years in prison for helping murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat escape from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, near the Canadian border. She had supervised them in the prison’s tailor shop.

The parole board said Mitchell was “emotionally unstable and easily manipulated,” which allowed the inmates to talk her into helping them.

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 also 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 to the inmates, who used them to cut through a steel cell wall to make an escape route to a manhole outside the prison walls.