This morning, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed his inspector general, Catherine Scott, to conduct an investigation to determine how Richard Matt and David Sweat were able to escape from Clinton Correctional Facility, aka New York State Prison.
Although the principle of focus over the past 10 days has been on Joyce Mitchell, a civilian worker in the prison, the reality is that Mitchell had far less to do with this than the complete and total failure of institutional security by staff.
For many weeks, if not months, Matt and Sweat, two men sentenced to life after being convicted of murder, put together a plan, acquired the necessary equipment and tools to cut through their cells, and gained access to a tunnel that led to the manhole which led to their freedom.
Where was the correctional staff in that housing area when they were cutting, drilling, and digging their way out of the prison?
This took an enormous amount of work, time, and effort, and could never be done without making enough noise to alert correctional staff. No one heard anything that would alert them to a problem?
Given that this was going on for weeks if not months, that raises a the question: How is it, in a maximum-security institution holding convicted murderers including a cop killer, that their two cells were never searched and their work or equipment was not discovered?
I'm curious to know who the program and/or security administrator was that thought it would be acceptable to allow convicted lifers — murderers — to roam the prison in civilian clothes and have unescorted movement to certain areas. A convicted cop killer and murderer who hacked up a body — one convict had already escaped from custody — were permitted in an “honor” housing area, giving them special privileges that other inmates do not have. The hypocrisy is only outdone by the insanity.
According to all reports, the two inmates were last accounted for at 10:30 p.m., and discovered missing at 5:30 a.m. the following morning.
Over that seven-hour period, 14 separate cell inspections should have been conducted, which would have required correctional staff to inspect each cell to ensure that there was a living/breathing body in those cells.
As for Joyce Mitchell and her part in this daring escape . . . unless these two inmates were complete morons, they never really counted on her for anything of substance. Using her as a real getaway driver would not only have been a hindrance, but an automatic flag for anyone that would have seen the three together.
Does anyone actually believe that these two men had no real plan as to where they were going, and how they were going to get there other than Joyce Mitchell?
If they had drills, and saws, and equipment to dig, and other things they should have never had, I’d be surprised if they didn’t have cellphones to communicate with accomplices on the outside.
Today, as more than 800 law-enforcement personnel systematically comb through acres upon acres of wildlife looking for these two animals, I believe they could be long gone.
As the search and investigation continues, I'd be far more concerned with the lack of security in that institution, than Joyce Mitchell’s involvement in this escape.
The sad reality is that if common sense and standard correctional practice were applied, and the department’s policies and procedures were followed, no matter what Joyce Mitchell did for these men, they would have never gotten out of that institution.
This made-for-movie escape is one of the most substantial breaches of security in New York State’s prison system.
Let's hope and pray that law-enforcement authorities are successful in capturing these two murderers before they have the ability to take another life, and that the governor ensures that something like this never happens again.
In 1986, Kerik joined the New York City Police Department where he earned the medal for valor. In 1991 he was transferred to the U.S. Justice Department's New York Drug Enforcement Task Force. In August 2000, Kerik served as police commissioner of New York. He led New York City through the devastating attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11. After retiring from the NYPD, Kerik accepted a request by the White House to lead Iraq's provisional government's efforts to reconstitute the Iraqi Interior Ministry. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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