Former prison seamstress Joyce Mitchell sobbed as she was sentenced Monday to up to seven years in prison for helping two convicts escape with tools smuggled in hamburger meat.
“If I could take it all back I would,” Mitchell said in a choked voice. “I live with regret every day and will for the rest of my life.”
She said she only helped the inmates, David Sweat and Richard Matt, because she feared they would hurt her family.
“I just don’t find that explanation credible,” Clinton County Court Judge Kevin Ryan told her as he imposed a sentence of 2-1/3 to 7 years in prison on a contraband count.
51-year-old, Joyce Mitchell, pleaded guilty in July in a deal that allowed her to sidestep charges for an alleged plot to kill her husband and for any sexual contact with Sweat and Matt.
Even though the actual sentence was already set as part of the plea bargain, Mitchell suggested to the judge that he might go easier on her, suggesting she would wear an ankle bracelet for the rest of her life.
“I’m hoping you will have mercy on me,” she said.
Ryan noted that he had received letters from the public urging him to give Mitchell a stiffer sentence and explained she was getting the maximum for the charge in her plea.
Prosecutors are also seeking restitution of almost $120,000 to cover the cost of repairing the cell walls that Matt and Sweat cut through to bust out of the Clinton County Correctional Facility on June 6.
Mitchell’s lawyer objected to the sum, which will be the subject of a hearing at a later date — and he also suggested that Matt and Sweat may have had other accomplices who have not been caught.
“I believe there was other assistance somehow provided to these men,” the defense lawyer. Stephen Johnston told the judge.
Prosecutors say Mitchell supplied the inmates with a drill bit and hacksaws that she smuggled in meat. They cut holes in their cells, hacked their way through underground pipes and tunnels and crawled out through a manhole.