Joyce Mitchell, a former New York state prison employee who admitted to helping two convicted killers escape from a maximum-security prison, leading to one of the largest manhunts in the state's history, was sentenced to at least two years and four months in prison. “You did terrible things,” Judge Kevin Ryan told Mitchell, the New York Times reports. “At any time, you could have stopped the escape from happening.” Under a plea agreement, Mitchell, 51, could spend up to seven years in prison.
Mitchell wept in court and struggled to read a statement apologizing for her role in helping Richard Matt and David Sweat escape from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y. “I am not a bad person,” she said. “I clearly made a horrible mistake.” Judge Ryan said he had received many letters from the public asking him to reject the deal and sentence Mitchell to more time. He said he had no authority to alter the deal but made it clear that he did not believe Mitchell's argument that she was acting out of fear for her family. Ryan said that the escape had cost the state millions and had noneconomic costs that were “incalculable.” “A large portion of the local population was terrorized,” he said. “Many residents did not sleep for many nights.”