Joyce Mitchell Pleads Guilty to Bringing Prison Escapees Tools in Frozen Hamburger Meat

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Manhunt Continues For Two Prisoners That Broke Out Of New York State Prison
Joyce Mitchell on June 15, 2015.Photo: Andrew Burton/2015 Getty Images

Joyce Mitchell, the prison worker charged with helping two prisoners escape from Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York last month, pleaded guilty to a felony and a misdemeanor on Tuesday. She could face up to seven years in prison. If the case had gone to trial, she would have spent up to eight years in prison, according to CNN

Mitchell said she smuggled saw blades and other tools into the prison inside frozen hamburger meat to help Richard Matt and David Sweat escape. She was originally supposed to pick the inmates up after they escaped, but changed her mind and was instead hospitalized for panic attacks. Matt died after being shot by law enforcement during the search; Sweat, who provided many details to authorities about how the pair managed to sneak out of their cells and pop out of a manhole cover without being detected, is now in solitary confinement. Mitchell’s husband, whom Matt and Sweat may have planned to kill after the escape, was in the courtroom today. The plea deal signed by Mitchell today will prevent her from facing charges beyond criminal facilitation and bringing contraband into the prison — that means nothing involving the alleged murder plot or her previous relationship with both prisoners. Mitchell will be formally sentenced on September 28.