Complacency and Corruption at Heart of NY Prison Escape

A report has recently been released that gives some insight into the successful escape by two inmates from the Clinton Correctional Facility last year. Much of this information comes from a statement by the surviving member of the duo, David Sweat. Sweat was captured after 3 weeks on the run. His partner, Richard Matt, was shot and killed during the course of the manhunt for the two men.

In Sweat’s 150-page statement, he details how he and Matt courted a woman, Joyce Mitchell, who worked in the prison’s tailor shop. He revealed how she smuggled tools, like drill bits, chisels and hacksaw blades, into the prison. Sweat goes on to detail how it took 85 days to dig through the prison walls to the outside. He had no building blueprints and basically used a trial and error method until he was successful.

Mitchell was also supposed to be outside the night of the escape with her car to pick the two men up. She never showed and they had to continue their escape on foot.

Sweat credits his escape to the lax security at the prison. He called the guards lazy and unconcerned. Most nights the guards never came through and did cell checks, nor did they inspect or patrol the catwalks and walkways where he was working. He said he was so sure of the laziness and blasé attitude, that he worked confidently and was unconcerned about being caught.

The information in Sweat’s report, and subsequent investigation into the matter, have led to charges being filed against some employees, numerous firings and resignations. The attorney general, Catherine Leahy Scott, commented on the events, saying “…failure to adhere to the most basic security standards uncovered by my investigation was egregious and inexcusable.”