Anyone who followed the real-life prison escape that inspired Ben Stiller's 2018 mini-series "Escape at Dannemora" likely knows the story of prison tailor Joyce Mitchell. Described as being in a romantic relationship with one of the two inmates who escaped, Mitchell began helping Matt and David Sweat before ultimately backing out of their getaway plans and remaining behind bars at the Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York.
Mitchell would often work with Sweat, who was serving 25 years to life for kidnapping and killing her former boss in 1997, during her shifts at the Dannemora tailor shop. In a statement to investigators, she said he became sexually aggressive and kissed her and forced her to perform oral sex, though she claimed she complied out of fear. She also reportedly provided him with nude photos and wrote him risque notes, but denied that they were in a romantic relationship.
Eventually, Mitchell's role as a liaison for the fugitives became more central to their plan. She smuggled hacksaw blades and chisels into the prison hidden in frozen meat, which they used to cut through walls and pipes as they made their way out of the facility and into the surrounding wilderness during the weeks-long manhunt.
After she confessed to her involvement in the escape, Mitchell was sentenced to seven years behind bars at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility and is due for parole in 2022. Her husband Lyle faithfully visited her every other weekend during her more than four years in prison and has built her a backyard gazebo to enjoy when she is finally freed. Her neighbors in the upstate New York town where the escape took place, however, are disgusted by how she's being portrayed in Showtime's series and say they hope she never returns.