Joyce Mitchell, Alleged Accomplice To Escaped Inmates, Arrested

A prison worker accused of passing contraband to the two convicted murderers who escaped from a New York prison was arrested Friday, according to state police.

Previously, Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie had said that Joyce Mitchell, 51, provided contraband to prisoners David Sweat, 34, and Richard Matt, 48, before they broke free from a maximum-security state prison near the Canadian border last week. A release from New York State Police said Mitchell was charged with promoting prison contraband in the first degree, a felony, and criminal facilitation in the fourth degree, a misdemeanor. Mitchell plead not guilty to the charges. She was arraigned and sent to jail late Friday night, bail set at $100,000 cash or $200,000 bond. She was remanded to custody until Monday.

Wylie said at a press conference Friday evening that Mitchell could be sentenced to up to seven years in jail if convicted of the felony, and one year for the misdemeanor. The district attorney added that additional charges could still be filed.

Mitchell ran the Clinton Correctional Facility's tailor shop, where the fugitive prisoners had jobs. She allegedly became friends with Matt and Sweat, and, according to earlier reports, supplied them with hacksaw blades, drill bits and lighted eyeglasses. However, Wylie denied earlier on Friday that Mitchell had given the prisoners tools, though he said she was the source of unspecified contraband.

It's even been alleged that Mitchell agreed to be the prisoners' getaway driver, but had a last-minute change of heart. Her son has said that Mitchell checked into a hospital with chest pains after word broke that the prisoners had used power tools to cut into a steam pipe and gain their freedom, at least temporarily, through a manhole.

Her husband, Lyle Mitchell, "may have assisted with the escape," according to a state police document quoted by the New York Daily News. However, he has not been arrested.

The manhunt for Matt and Sweat centers on a wooded area not far from the village of Dannemora, according to The Associated Press.

More than 800 law enforcement officers are searching for the escapees, state police said in Friday's release.

“We have a message for David Sweat and Richard Matt,” said State Police Major Charles Guess. “We are coming for you and we will not stop until you are caught.”