In a new Lifetime movie, New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell, the network will dramatize a few weeks in 2015, when people on the East Coast were completely glued to one particular news story. That news story has been turned into a TV thriller starring Penelope Ann Miller, premiering April 23. Miller plays Mitchell, who was employed as a prison tailor when she allegedly helped two men convicted of murder escape from a facility in upstate New York. According to CNN, Mitchell was convicted of several offenses related to the incident, including "promoting prison contraband." (Mitchell pled guilty, but maintains that she was threatened by the men and forced to comply.) But is Joyce Mitchell still in prison?
CNN reported in 2015 that Richard Matt and David Sweat were tracked down after a three-week manhunt. Matt was killed by police during the capture and Sweat was re-incarcerated. New York governor Andrew Cuomo told The Capitol Pressroom about the escapees' alleged plan. "They would kill Mitchell's husband, and then get in the car and drive to Mexico on the theory that Mitchell was in love with one or both of them," he said.
Among the actions that Mitchell admitted to, according to The New York Times, included smuggling hacksaw blades into the facility in frozen packages of meat for the inmates to use in their escape and also agreeing to be their getaway driver on the big night. Unfortunately for Matt and Sweat, Mitchell abandoned their plan to escape then drive to Mexico.
Mitchell was sentenced by a judge to up to seven years incarceration, per CNN. The former tailor took a plea deal to avoid additional charges having to do with her alleged plot with the inmates to kill her husband, Lyle Mitchell, and the alleged sexual conduct between her and the inmates. Mitchell is a mother, which makes this whole story even more tragic for her family. The maximum seven-year sentence would place her release date somewhere in the summer of 2022, barring parole.
Mitchell is currently incarcerated in Bedford Hills Correctional Facility For Women in New York for her involvement in the escape. In February of this year, USA Today reported that Mitchell was denied when she made her first appeal to the parole board. The board's decision included language that stated that the Mitchell's release would be "incompatible with the welfare of society." She can apply for parole again in the future, but it will probably be difficult for any New York judge to forget how many towns were forced to go on lockdown as soon as authorities became aware of the escape.
See how the fictionalized version of this real saga plays out on Lifetime on April 23.