ALBANY — Good behavior behind bars hasn't been enough to give Joyce Mitchell early freedom.
The Dickinson woman, who helped Richard Matt and David Sweat escape from Clinton Correctional Facility in June 2015, was denied parole Monday.
The Parole Board considered her "institutional adjustment," but said her release wouldn't be granted just as a reward for good conduct or efficient performance of duties while incarcerated.
"You present yourself more as a victim than a responsible participant and appear to be emotionally unstable and easily manipulated," the board told her, according to a report issued by the State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.
"In spite of your cooperation after the escape, your pre-sentence investigation report reflects that your statements included lies and half truths given in a piecemeal fashion.
"This apparently willful failure to volunteer comprehensive and truthful disclosure of information began during the investigation and continued during your interview with the board."
Mitchell, at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women, is serving two and a third to seven years for her part in the escape, including providing the convicted killers with saw blades that she hid in packages of hamburger.
So far, she has been incarcerated for 19 months; this was her first opportunity to present a case for parole.
Clinton County Sheriff David Favro said he was pleased that Mitchell was denied parole.
"I think this decision sends the right message," he said.
"She may look at herself as a victim, but when you look at the gravity of the situation she caused, it certainly is hard to look at her as a victim."
Favro said Mitchell had plenty of opportunities to alert authorities about the escape.
"But she chose not to, and I don't think 19 months is enough time for her to be released."
LETTERS OF SUPPORT
Mitchell knew when the breakout was going to happen and was supposed to drive Matt and Sweat away from Dannemora after they crawled through a manhole on Bouck Street.
The prison tailor shop supervisor had a panic attack and ended up in the hospital, leaving the escapees to make their way on foot.
She has said she went along with the plan up until then because the inmates would have murdered her husband, Lyle.
He and their son, Tobey, among others, wrote letters supporting Mrs. Mitchell's early release.
Those missives, the board wrote, "are compelling, as they describe your positive qualities.
"Receipt of merit completions have been noted, along with your stated and documented residence and employment release plans."
Mrs. Mitchell's plans, should she be released, the board said, were to return to school and seek a job in the criminal-justice field.
"We question the propriety of (that) goal," the board said.
Letters also asked the Parole Board to deny Mitchell a break on her sentence, among them one from Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie.
Monday, he noted his appreciation to that body for its decision, as, he said, "I believe it accurately reflects the county's ongoing concerns regarding the impact her actions have had on the safety and well-being of our community.
"If not for her selfishness and direct contribution to David Sweat and Richard Matt, they would not have escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility. Her direct conduct put immense pressure on every citizen of this community. as well as our local, state and federal resources.
"Joyce Mitchell must be held accountable and be required to serve the maximum sentence imposed upon her."
LONG TIME TO FORGIVE
Franklin County Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill said he does not believe the community is ready to receive Mitchell back.
"She played a pretty big part in the escape of two murderers," he said. "As an employee of the state, there are certain expectations, and she did not meet them."
He said Mitchell's actions led to great cost for the community — emotionally and fiscally.
"There was one dead (Matt), one injured (Sweat), and the community was in an uproar for three weeks," Mulverhill said.
"I think it will take the community a long time for forgive and forget."
The board also considered the cost to New Yorkers of the manhunt that gripped the North Country for weeks.
"As noted by (Clinton County Judge Kevin Ryan) at your sentencing, the economic and non-economic costs suffered by so many people is incalculable," the Parole Board said.
"Yet, it is fair to say that your crimes cost New York state millions in response to the escape of inmates Matt and Sweat that your actions facilitated.
"You allowed your common sense and supervisory duties to be compromised by developing unprofessional relationships with Matt and Sweat.
"You did not tell anyone of the escape-related requests or plans as events were occurring and offered reasons for not doing so that neither Judge Ryan nor the board found credible."
State Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay) also feels Mitchell should serve more time.
"Her actions put our community, our residents and law enforcement through hell for 23 days," he said.
"She had plenty of opportunities to do the right thing, and she didn't, and the cost was great."
Jones said that it appears that Mitchell still doesn't understand the seriousness of what she did.
"Part of rehabilitation is to take responsibility for what you did," he said.
RISK OF LAWBREAKING
In the end, the Parole Board said, favorable factors were outweighed by others that "lead us to conclude that if released at this time, your release would be incompatible with the welfare of society and that there is a reasonable probability that you would not live and remain at liberty without again violating the law.
The decision by the board was unanimous.
Mr. Mitchell did not respond to a phone message asking him for comment.
Email Joe LoTemplio: