UPDATE: Joyce Mitchell, the 55-year-old prison tailor who was a key to helping two convicted killers break out of a maximum-security New York prison, has been paroled. The incident served as the inspiration for the 2018 Showtime miniseries, Escape at Dannemora, which starred Patricia Arquette, who won a Golden Globe, SAG and Critics Choice awards for her portrayal of Mitchell. The series received 12 Emmy nominations.
Mitchell supplied the digging tools that allowed the inmates to escape. Recapturing them cost the state an estimated $23 million. In 2015, Mitchell received a 2 1/3 to seven year sentence for aiding the escape. She was denied parole three times.
EARLIER: A former prison worker who helped two inmates escape is angry with director Ben Stiller about her portrayal in his Showtime series, Escape At Dannemora, which details the strange story.
Joyce “Tillie” Mitchell, 54, whom the tabloids nicknamed the “Shawskank,” was convicted of helping killers David Sweat and Richard Matt escape from the Dannemora Correctional Institute. Mitchell was allegedly romantically involved with both.
The two sawed their way through the walls of the prison with hacksaw blades purchased by Mitchell and smuggled into the prison. Their attempted escape ended with one inmate shot dead and the other recaptured.
She later claimed she did it because she feared the two, not – as prosecutors allege – because she was in love with them.
Mitchell is now serving a seven-year sentence for her role in the 2015 prison break, which resulted in a 23-day, $20 million manhunt involving 1,500 law enforcement officers. She pleaded guilty to promoting prison contraband and facilitating criminal activity. She is eligible for early release in June 2019; if she serves her maximum sentence, she’ll be out in June 2022.
She gave her first interview to the New York Post since the Showtime series began airing in November.
“I never had sex with them,” she said. “Ben Stiller is a son-of-a-bitch liar, just like the rest of the world. He doesn’t care about the truth. All he cares about is making millions off me. He’s an idiot.”