Joyce Mitchell sobbed in court on Monday as she received her sentence for the part she played in the escape of two prisoners on June 6. The former prison seamstress was sentenced up to seven years for providing tools to the prisoners. She still maintains that she only helped the inmates, David Sweat and Richard Matt, because she feared they would hurt her family, according to NBC News.
Mitchell walked into the courtroom in tears and cried throughout most of the sentencing that last 35 minutes. She apologized to the community, her former co-workers and law enforcement officers for the weeks of fear and disruption the search for the killers caused. She said if she could take it all back, she would. The judge showed little sympathy as he handed down the sentence, and Mitchell’s explanation did not keep County Court Judge Kevin Ryan from imposing a sentence of 2-1/3 to 7 years in prison on a contraband count. He told Mitchell, “I just don’t find that explanation credible.”
Mitchell, 51, pleaded guilty in July for her part in the escape. This prevented her from being charged with the alleged plot to kill her husband and for any sexual contact with Sweat and Matt. The actual sentence was part of the plea bargain, but Mitchell still asked the judge to go easy on her. She asked him to allow her to wear an ankle bracelet for the rest of her life.
Many letters were written to the judge suggesting that he give Mitchell a stiffer sentence, but Judge Ryan gave Mitchell the maximum charge outlined 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. A hearing for the restitution is scheduled for Nov. 6, according to MSN.
In an interview with Matt Lauer on the “Today” show earlier this month, Mitchell outlined her part in the escape. She was scheduled to meet them at the manhole with a getaway car, clothes, and a shotgun. She backed out at the last minute. She admitted, “‘I just got in over my head.”
Mitchell’s husband, Lyle, was in the courtroom when the sentence was handed down. He said he is standing by her and will wait for her to serve her sentence. He gave his wife a thumbs up as she entered and exited the courtroom. She mouthed “I love you” to him as guards led her away. Tracy Sardegna, the fiancee of Joyce’s first husband, was also in the courtroom, and she was hoping for a longer sentence. Sardegna added that she didn’t think Mitchell’s tears were sincere. She suggested that Mitchell was only feeling sorry for herself.