Prison Seamstress: 'I Live With Regret Every Day'

Joyce Mitchell sentenced to up to 7 years in 'worst mistake I have ever made'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2015 10:42 AM CDT
Prison Seamstress: 'I Live With Regret Every Day'
Joyce Mitchell cries as she sits with her attorney in court on July 28, 2015, in Plattsburgh, NY.   (Rob Fountain/The Press-Republican via AP, Pool)

Joyce Mitchell, the prison worker who helped two convicts escape an upstate New York correctional facility in June, wept during her sentencing Monday. "If I could take it all back I would," Mitchell said "in a choked voice," per NBC News. "I live with regret every day and will for the rest of my life." She also reiterated what she said in a two-part Today interview from September: that she had only helped David Sweat and Richard Matt because she feared they would kill her husband. She also asked to "wear an ankle bracelet for the rest of my life" rather than be incarcerated, per CBS News. But the presiding judge wasn't buying it. "I just don't find that explanation credible," he said before sentencing her to 2 1/3 to seven years on a contraband charge. (Mitchell avoided charges of sexual relations with the inmates and plotting to kill her husband by taking a July plea deal.)

The judge rehashed all the trouble Mitchell caused, including the trauma of upstate residents whose lives were turned upside down by the manhunt, which he says was estimated to cost about $23 million, CBS notes. Mitchell acknowledged it all in her speech before the court. "I am 51 years old. And this is by far the worst mistake I have ever made in my life," she said, per ABC News, adding that she's seeking counseling. Prosecutors are also going after her to recoup the nearly $120,000 in damages that Sweat and Matt reportedly made to cell walls as they busted out; a November hearing has been set to address that issue, per NBC New York. One person who has, apparently, remained by Mitchell's side: her husband, Lyle. "My wife has a heart of gold," he told Today, per NBC. "That's her biggest downfall." (More Joyce Mitchell stories.)

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