Showtime's new limited series, Escape At Dannemora, may seem far-fetched at times, but not only is the story true — it happened just a few years ago. While famous prison-set movies and TV shows like The Shawshank Redemption, Prison Break, and Orange Is The New Black use fictional settings, Escape At Dannemora's Clinton Correctional Facility is real; they didn't even change the name. Main characters Richard Matt and David Sweat famously escaped from the facility in 2015 with the help of one of the prison's correctional officers, launching a 23-day manhunt that cost about $23 million dollars, according to ABC News. State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico justified the expense by telling the outlet, "I know it was a substantial amount of money ... [but] if we lost one life of an innocent victim, what's the price tag you put on that? I don't know that you could put a price tag on the safety of a person or a person's life."
As reported by NBC, Matt and Sweat escaped on June 6, 2015. Sweat was captured on June 29, 2015, while Matt was shot and killed by a SWAT team two days prior. Following their prison break, Clinton Correctional Facility made some security improvements, but according to CNN, other issues have persisted. Another employee, Denise Prell, pled guilty to 25 misdemeanor counts — including official misconduct, promoting prison contraband, and sexual abuse — in September.
This came three years after Matt and Sweat's escape, which was made possible because of similar circumstances. Joyce Mitchell, then a seamstress at Clinton Correctional, pled guilty to bringing contraband into the prison and to criminal facilitation in connection to the case, per another report from NBC. She was accused of smuggling tools into the facility that aided in Matt and Sweat's breakout.
Following the second incident with Prell, the New York Offices Of The Inspector General released a report detailing how Clinton Correctional could further renovate locations like their tailor shop to prevent prisoners and inmates from communicating in private, recommending that the prison:
"Assign no fewer than two civilian employees and two correction officers to Tailor Shop 5, the largest of the tailor shops; remove all unnecessary cages and other visual obstructions in the shop to provide security officers unrestricted views of the shop; replace the current door to the computer room with a door containing a window, enabling the security officer to observe those in the computer room at all times; and install fixed cameras and monitors in the shop."
The Inspector General also formally encouraged Clinton to "provide training to civilians and correction officers on recognizing and reporting indicators of inappropriate relationships between staff members and inmates."
Just as true stories tend to be stranger than fiction, history tends to repeat itself, and if the pattern between prisoners and prison workers getting close in the tailor shop at Clinton Correctional Facility continues, there could be an Escape At Dannemora 2 sometime in the future.
Escape At Dannemora airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on Showtime.