Former corrections officer speaks about prison break

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The Clinton correctional facility is a maximum security prison.

More than 90% of the nearly 3,000 inmates are serving time for violent crimes. So how did two convicted murderers manage to escape? Was it lax security? Or too little staff? Joe Puma, a former corrections officer and sergeant says he has been to Clinton.

“I visited every facility in the state. Clinton is the most secure facilities with the best staff,” said Puma.

Puma was also the executive director of council 82, the union that once represented corrections officers. From speaking with his fellow officers he says staffing is an issue.

“It’s obvious that the prison cuts have hurt the system, the security of the system. At some point the state of New York decided to go from safety and security to providing programs for the inmates, to providing new programs that assist them in going back out into the world and in doing that you sacrifice. And the first place you sacrifice is staffing levels and security,” Puma said.

Puma says that may have helped Joyce Mitchell get those tools into the prison. It also may have allowed her to have private time with both inmates. Authorities confirm Mitchell had an intimate relationship with them.

After calling almost every day since the prison escape, NEWS10ABC went to the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to see what they had to say about all this. Unfortunately, again they wouldn’t talk.

“We’ve got people now in high level positions who never wore a uniform. That will never wear a uniform. And I’m not sure they know what goes on behind those walls. Other than what they read and what other people tell them,” said Puma.

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