Patricia Arquette's Escape At Dannemora Prisoner Has Been Released On Parole

patricia arquette joyce mitchell escape at dannemora showtime
(Image credit: Showtime)

Joyce Mitchell, known for helping a pair of prisoners escape from a maximum-security prison and then being played by Patricia Arquette in the Showtime version of her story, has been released on parole. Mitchell had been sentenced to seven years in prison following the 2015 escape by two convicted killers and will be released two years early, but that's not the whole story.

Joyce Mitchell was denied parole three times before finally being approved for release from the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, located north of New York City on February 8, 2020. The release will be conditional, however, and WABC-New York reports Michell will remain under community supervision for over two years, with the supervision ending (as of now) on June 8, 2022. She'll be supervised close to where she lived and worked at the Dannemora state prison, in northern New York.

She gained infamy back in 2015 after assisting Richard Matt and David Sweat break out of the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York. Joyce Mitchell was employed at the prison as a tailor, and she was responsible for smuggling them the tools they used to escape. They chiseled through walls and pipes, a la Shawshank Redemption, but the real-life escape ended very differently from the film.

The manhunt to catch Richard Matt and David Sweat lasted for three weeks and ended with Matt dead from a gunshot wound and Sweat recaptured and imprisoned for life. Joyce Mitchell's role was evidently minor enough that she can be released on good behavior a couple of years earlier than originally sentenced.

While this is good news for Joyce Mitchell considering her repeated appeals for parole, Mitchell may not be thrilled if she checks out Escape at Dannemora upon release. When the 7-part series was released on Showtime, Mitchell had some harsh words for director and executive producer Ben Stiller based on what she'd heard about the content.

Specifically, Joyce Mitchell took issue with Patricia Arquette's version of her having sex with the show's versions of Richard Matt and David Sweat, played by Benicio del Toro and Paul Dano (who is arguably a good fit for another role after his performance on the Showtime series), respectively. Mitchell called Ben Stiller a "son-of-a-bitch liar" and "idiot" who only cared about "making millions" off her story.

For his part, Ben Stiller responded by stating that his team did "a year's worth of research" involving conversations with people who "were in the tailor shop" and the Inspector General's office. While he admitted that they did "have to create scenes based on us inferring what we believed to be the truth," he also stated that she was "kicked out of the tailor shop for inappropriate conduct" and sent nude pictures to David Sweat.

Patricia Arquette's performance in Escape at Dannemora was received well by critics. She gained 40 pounds for the role, and she won the 2019 Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, and was nominated in the same category at the 2019 Emmys, although Michelle Williams took home the trophy for her work on Fosse/Verdon.

If you want to check out Showtime's take on Joyce Mitchell's story now that she's been released on parole, you can find Escape at Dannemore streaming on Amazon Prime. If you're in the market for some additional viewing options, check out our 2020 winter and spring premiere schedule.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).