1:15 PM PDT, June 18, 2021
It was a jailbreak scandal that shocked the nation — a prison worker who helped two convicted killers escape. The bombshell case inspired a Showtime series with Patricia Arquette.
Now a new Lifetime special, “Cellmate Secrets: Joyce Mitchell,” is shedding fresh light on the notorious case.
The program details how 51-year-old Mitchell hid hacksaw blades in chopped meat and smuggled them in to murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat at a New York state prison. Mitchell was allegedly in a love triangle with the two men, an allegation she denied.
“She got them everything they needed,” former inmate Erik Jensen, who appears in the new special, told Inside Edition. Jensen worked under Mitchell in the prison tailor shop while he was doing time for a parole violation.
“When I was there, they would go in the back room after work and count the material. I saw her bringing in things like art supplies, tattoo supplies,” Jensen said.
Prosecutors said Mitchell, Matt and Sweat even discussed killing Mitchell’s husband, who also worked at the prison. But when the two convicts escaped, Mitchell couldn’t go through with the plan to drive the getaway car. She went to the hospital with a panic attack instead.
The prisoners’ escape triggered a huge, three-week manhunt. Matt was killed in a shootout with cops almost exactly six years ago. Sweat was wounded and recaptured. Mitchell served four years for her role in the escape.
Video posted online showed Mitchell shortly after she got out of prison last year. At her side was the husband she allegedly discussed killing. Mitchell denied she discussed having him killed.
Now there’s a new take on the true-crime classic.