Joyce Mitchell Says Depression Affected Her Decision to Help Upstate Prisoners Escape

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Manhunt Continues For Two Prisoners That Broke Out Of New York State Prison
Photo: Eric Thayer/2015 Getty Images

Joyce Mitchell, the prison worker who pleaded guilty to helping Richard Matt and David Sweat escape from upstate New York’s Clinton Correctional Facility in June, has granted her first interview to Today. In an excerpt released on Friday morning (the full sit-down will air next week), Mitchell tried to explain what she was thinking when she decided to play a role in Matt and Sweat’s plot.

"I was going through a point in my life — a lot of people go through depression. A lot of people go through that," she said. "And I just got in over my head. And I couldn’t get out. And I couldn’t tell anybody. I couldn’t tell my husband. Couldn’t tell my family. I couldn’t tell my co-workers. I couldn’t tell anybody. There’s nobody you can tell." Mitchell also said that Matt, with whom she apparently had a sexual relationship, had "complete control" over her (though she did ultimately decide against providing the men with a getaway car, as was the plan).

Mitchell’s Today comments seem to be in line with what she has told investigators, including, “I was caught up in the fantasy. I enjoyed the attention, the feeling both of them gave me, and the thought of a different life.” It’s difficult not to feel at least a little bad for someone who was willing to believe that a big, romantic adventure could begin with using hunks of frozen hamburger meat to smuggle tools to two convicted murderers in maximum-security prison.