Inspired by true events, Lifetime’s ‘New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell’ is a film that examines the real-life story of a prison worker who helped two convicted murderers break out from a maximum-security unit, leading to a 22-day long quest. Joyce Mitchell, it turns out, aided Richard Matt and David Sweat by giving them materials to execute a jailbreak straight out of ‘Shawshank Redemption.’ So now that this dramatic matter has been closed for a while, let’s find out all about how Joyce was crucial to the case and where she is today, shall we?
Who is Joyce Mitchell?
Joyce Mitchell began working as an industrial training administrator within the apparel department at the Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York in 2008. She migrated to Tailor Shop 1 in 2013, where she labored as a seamstress until the jailbreak on June 5, 2015. Joyce’s life partner, Lyle, was also employed in the facility, but he seemingly had no idea about anything that was going on. After all, as per inmate statements and several reports, Joyce’s behavior with a few convicts, especially David Sweat and Richard Matt, bordered on inappropriate.
It later came to light that the two inmates were friends and had knowingly seduced Joyce as a part of their elaborate scheme to attain freedom. She had provided nude pictures of herself to David and had sexual encounters with Richard inside the tailor shop. In fact, Joyce even professed her love for them in secret notes. “I was caught up in the fantasy,” she revealed to detectives in 2015. “I enjoyed the attention, the feeling both of them gave me, and the thought of a different life.” Therefore, when they approached Joyce for help in early 2015, she couldn’t refuse.
Over the following months, Joyce smuggled hacksaw blades, a screwdriver, chisels, and a few other tools into the prison in frozen hamburger meats that are given to convicts. She also directly handed over six knives to Richard and collected pistols, ammunition, camping gear, and a compass. Joyce had vowed to meet the duo in a getaway car with the weaponry and flee straight to Mexico with them but never showed up. Her actions left the outlaws without a distinct plan, leading to their eventual apprehension after 22 days. Joyce, though, had already been arrested — on June 12, 2015.
Where is Joyce Mitchell Now?
Joyce Mitchell was indicted on charges of promoting prison contraband in the first degree and criminal facilitation in the fourth degree, to which she pleaded guilty. As per her testimony, she not only provided killers Richard Matt and David Sweat with food and means to contact their families but also knew about their plans to kill her husband, whom they referred to as “the glitch.” They’d even given Joyce pills to drug him with. Ultimately, in September 2015, Joyce was sentenced to 2⅓ to 7 years in prison and told to pay over $80,000 in restitution and more than $6,000 in fines.
“If I could take it all back I would,” she said while crying at her hearing. “I can’t begin to explain how sorry I am…How much remorse I have. I am 51 years old. And this is by far the worst mistake I have ever made in my life. I live with regret every day and will for the rest of my life.” Joyce’s sorrow over her actions, it seems, was genuine as she was an ideal inmate during her incarceration. Thus, she was granted discharge from the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County, New York, and released under community surveillance on February 6, 2020.
According to records, Joyce will be supervised in Franklin County until June 2022 at the family home she shares with her loyal husband, Lyle Mitchell. She served roughly 4½ years of her sentence, and Lyle devotedly tried to visit her every other weekend without fail. From what we can tell, the pair remain together to this day, but they prefer to stay distant from the public scrutiny, media, and spotlight. However, former New York Police Sergeant Joseph Giacalone told A&E Real Crime that he believes Joyce should have received a longer sentence.