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Prison Worker Pleads Guilty in Sex-Fueled Breakout Scheme

Prison Worker Pleads Guilty in Sex-Fueled Breakout Scheme

“I was already bringing stuff in to him, and didn’t really feel I could stop.”

Back in June, we reported on the bizarre New York prison break that led to a three-week manhunt for convicted murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat. Richard Matt was eventually shot and killed by police, and David Sweat shot multiple times and captured alive; but the most interesting—and bizarre—character in the frightening saga is the prison worker who helped the two men escape—at great risk to herself, her husband, and her family.

Joyce Mitchell, 51, was was arrested on June 11 and charged with Promoting Prison Contraband in the 1st Degree and Criminal Facilitation in the 4th Degree; today, Mitchell pleaded guilty to those charges. She faces a prison sentence of 27 months to seven years and a $6,000 fine.

Mitchell’s descent into the madness that was Matt and Sweat’s escape scheme started slowly, with small favors; as time passed, however, Mitchell fell victim to her own idiocy—and the apparent allure of weird sex with a convicted murderer.

From the New York Times:

Last November, Ms. Mitchell asked Mr. Matt to paint a portrait of her three children as an anniversary gift for her husband, who also worked in the prison tailor shop. In exchange, she bought the inmate a pair of boxing gloves, though he did not finish the painting in time. Other presents followed: cookies, brownies, pepper.

But the requests took a more suspicious turn, as Mr. Matt asked Ms. Mitchell to buy two pairs of spectacles, equipped with lights, which the two men apparently used as they worked at night, unnoticed by corrections officers. (A dozen employees at the prison remain on administrative leave in the wake of the escape.) Mr. Matt offered an innocent explanation for the glasses: He and Mr. Sweat merely wanted to paint at night.

The relationship and plot quickly intensified. In late April, Ms. Mitchell said, Mr. Matt suddenly “grabbed me and kissed me” with an open mouth. (Shortly after that, he asked for a screwdriver bit, which Ms. Mitchell bought and gave him.)

In May, he asked for oral sex, and she consented; she also groped his genitals in several instances, using a large prison coat to disguise their activities.

Ms. Mitchell also said that she took sexually charged photos for Mr. Sweat and wrote him provocative notes, but that she did not have sexual contact with him.

In May, Mr. Matt asked for — and received from Ms. Mitchell — hacksaw blades, which the prisoner initially said were for making frames. But that ruse was soon abandoned.

“Inmate Matt was coming into work tired,” Ms. Mitchell said. “I asked him about sleeping, and he said he was up all night. After a couple of days, he told me he and Inmate Sweat had cut the holes and were going down in the pipes.” She said the two men had also found tools in a toolbox and “were using them to get out.”

The ruse was abandoned! Thank god they gave in to the pure, simple truth.


How could this happen? We’re talking about something far beyond the bounds of “inappropriate”—this was a relationship forged between two sadistic killers, and a woman partially responsible for making sure they were never allowed to hurt anyone ever again.

According to psychologist Elie Godsi, the allure of “forbidden fruit” plays a huge part in these types of “relationships”:

Consultant psychologist Elie Godsi suggests it is the artificial nature of the prison environment that can lead people who would not normally be attracted to one another to overstep boundaries.

He said it could also be down to the lure of “forbidden fruit” that attracts others.

“These are not normal relationships, these are rose-tinted,” he said.

“These people are not seeing each other under normal circumstances.

“The inmates don’t have to worry about money for rent, or paying for food, they are pretty well looked after.

“And the boundaries between people in prison are very rigid.

“There is an element of the forbidden fruit and some people are attracted to that.”

Mr Godsi said inmates often acted differently to how they would outside because they wanted to avoid trouble.

Such relationships can be mutually beneficial. Inmates, he said, can gain privileges, while officers can feel at ease knowing “their man” returned to his cell when they go home.

Well, as long as we’re all at ease.

How did Mitchell wrap up her statement to the court? By apologizing:

“I am,” she concluded, “really sorry for what I have done.”

So are we—but we would have been much sorrier had Matt and Sweat decided to go off-plan and kill again. Enjoy prison, Joyce.


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Henry Hawkins | July 29, 2015 at 1:28 pm

The two escapees are sociopaths, by definition skilled at locating weak links and exploiting them.

    AZ_Langer in reply to Henry Hawkins. | July 29, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    Those weak links can include people who are trained to know better. An old friend who worked in the mental health field married a death row prisoner.

This is why the death penalty makes perfect sense. There are some people who cannot be “harmless” or even “non-dangerous” anywhere.

It is also a good example of why “retributive sentencing” makes sense.

It is not just low level prison employees that fall for “The Con”. I was involved (from the law enforcement side) in a case where a very attractive young lawyer fell for a vicious convicted murder and ended up busted.

This murder had robbed a Laundromat and then forced a young attendant to kneel and then shot him twice. He was back in the county jail on an appeal (

After this young lawyer was on her way out of the jail following what should have been a professional visit with her client someone noticed she was crying. Hardly professional conduct. The jail staff immediately searched his cell and found drugs.

This was a lot of years ago and I don’t remember the outcome for the attorney. Didn’t make any difference for the prisoner because he was going to spend the rest of his life in prison anyway.

There is a reason they are called “cons”.

“In May, he asked for oral sex, and she consented; she also groped his genitals in several instances, using a large prison coat to disguise their activities.

Ms. Mitchell also said that she took sexually charged photos for Mr. Sweat and wrote him provocative notes, but that she did not have sexual contact with him.”

Thanks to Bill Clinton, that beej doesn’t count as sexual contact.

Gremlin1974 | July 29, 2015 at 2:33 pm

Even if she server the full 27 months it is far less than she deserves.

She’s lucky no one was killed. Accessory to murder otherwise.