Prison employee back in court; formal investigation into prison break announced

DANNEMORA, N.Y. (WIVB) – As the manhunt for two convicted killers who escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility stretches into a tenth day, Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced steps to try to stop something like this from happening again.

Monday morning, he directed Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott to conduct a thorough investigation to identify how David Sweat and Richard Matt were able to escape, and recommend any potential reforms and best practices to prevent future incidents.

“Capturing these killers and returning them to state custody remains our top priority – however, it’s critically important to examine the circumstances that enabled these inmates to escape in the first place,” Governor Cuomo said in a written statement Monday. “Today I am directing the Inspector General to initiate an investigation into the facts surrounding this case, and report back on what steps need to be taken to help ensure this situation is not repeated. We have zero tolerance for anyone who aided or abetted these criminals, no matter how minor their role. Make no mistake: any individual found to have assisted in this escape will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Joyce Mitchell, 51, appeared back in court Monday morning. The prison employee has pleaded not guilty to charges of promoting prison contraband, a felony, and criminal facilitation, a misdemeanor. Mitchell is accused of providing Matt and Sweat with various tools, including hacksaw blades, chisels, and a screwdriver bit. Prosecutors say she also planned to drive the inmates out of the area after their escape, but she backed out of that plan.

Monday, she appeared with a new lawyer in a Plattsburgh court, where she waived her right to a preliminary felony hearing. Her original attorney pulled himself off her case due to a conflict with a previous case. Mitchell’s next court date will be set by the county court system. If convicted, she could face eight years in prison.

 

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