After a possible sighting yesterday in upstate NY, officials are focusing on the border of NY and Pennsylvania in their search for the two convicted murderers who escaped from an upstate prison at the start of the month. Hundreds of officers have descended on the town of Friendship, NY in Allegany County after someone reported spotting two men near a railroad line that runs along Route 20. "There are millions of cops — millions of them," resident Ann Anthon told the Daily News of the police presence.
Allegany County is about 370 miles from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, the prison where David Sweat and Richard Matt made a daring escape on June 6th. Much of the blame for the breakout has focused on prison worker and alleged accomplice Joyce Mitchell. Her job was to teach inmates at Clinton Correctional how to sew clothes and repair sewing machines. Mitchell allegedly provided Matt and Sweat with hacksaw blades, chisels, drill bits and eyeglasses with lights affixed to them, which they then used to facilitate their dramatic breakout through the catwalks underneath the prison.
But as you might imagine, one person can't be blamed entirely for such a complicated escape. At least one other corrections officer has been placed on administrative leave as part of the investigation into the escape so far. And the Times has a story today on all the security lapses and mistakes that contributed to the breakout. “As the months go by, years go by, things get less strict,” said Keith Provost, a retired corrections officer who had worked for over 15 years at the prison.
Those lapses included:
- Corrections officers rarely shine lights over the faces of inmates during hourly bed checks
- Catwalks and underground tunnels were no longer being inspected
- No one was inside two of the 35-foot-high guard towers that overlooked the manhole when the two men emerged from catwalks
"The various investigations will determine what, if any, lapses occurred, and at that point, all appropriate action will be taken and corrective reforms will be instituted," Linda Foglia, a spokeswoman for the State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, said in a statement. She added that three different agencies were conducting "top-to-bottom" independent investigations of security practices at the prison.
The Times also has a neat story taking a closer look at the tools the prisoners used to make their escape.