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Dannemora prison seamstress who helped 2 convicts escape released early

Joyce Mitchell gave a drill and hacksaw to convicts Richard Matt and David Sweat to help them escape an upstate New York prison. They were on the run for three weeks.
Image: Joyce Mitchell
Joyce Mitchell accompanied by her attorney Steven Johnston, prepares to leave a restitution hearing at the Clinton County Government Center on Nov. 6, 2015, in Plattsburgh, N.Y.Gabe Dickens / AP file

A former prison seamstress in Dannemora, New York, who helped two convicts escape in 2015 has been released early from her sentence behind bars, officials said.

Joyce Mitchell, 55, walked out of Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County on Thursday, the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said. She will remain on parole until June 8, 2022.

Mitchell was convicted for her role in helping prisoners Richard Matt and David Sweat escape Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora in June 2015.

The convicts spent nearly three weeks on the run before they were caught by authorities. Matt was shot and killed by law enforcement, and Sweat was shot, taken back into custody and sentenced to life behind bars.

The escape inspired a documentary, a movie and a limited series on Showtime. It has been compared to "Shawshank Redemption," the 1994 movie in which a convict digs a tunnel to escape prison.

Authorities said Mitchell, who was married, gave the two convicts a drill and hacksaw, which they used to cut holes in their cells and through underground pipes, allowing them to crawl out through a manhole.

She was also accused of having sexual contact with Matt.

Mitchell pleaded guilty to a contraband charge and was sentenced to up to seven years in prison. According to NBC New York, she was tentatively approved for conditional release last December after a prison staff committee said she had earned time off her sentence for good behavior.

The state Board of Parole had denied Mitchell's requests for parole three times, most recently last June, according to the outlet.