In a glimpse into what the Washington Post calls the "rose-tinted romances of prison life," statements offered by prison worker Joyce Mitchell lend insight as to why she helped two felons escape the Clinton Correctional Facility last month. In statements acquired by the New York Times, NBC News, and ABC News, Mitchell—who pleaded guilty yesterday on charges she helped David Sweat and Richard Matt break out—says, "I believe I helped Inmate Matt and Inmate Sweat escape because I was caught up in the fantasy. I enjoyed the attention, the feeling both of them gave me, and the thought of a different life." Psychologists call what Mitchell was feeling hybristophilia, or an attraction to violent criminals, per the Post, and it's not uncommon. "The reality is that relationships [between prison guards and inmates] can develop. Admiration can develop," an American University law professor says.
And develop it did for Mitchell, who admitted she had a sexual relationship with Matt that started when he gave her an "open-mouth kiss" in April and progressed to her giving him oral sex; she also confessed to touching his genitals through a hole in a prison coat used to hide their activity, as well as to sending sexually provocative pics and notes to Sweat via Matt, though she says she didn't get sexual with Sweat. Mitchell says she was supposed to meet them the night of the escape, then drive to her house so Matt could kill "the glitch"—her husband, Lyle—before the three of them took off. "I know I had agreed to help them escape and run away with them, but I panicked and couldn't follow through with the rest of the plan," she says in the statement. "I really do love my husband and he's the reason." (Mitchell's "moment of clarity" came over Chinese food.)