12 employees of Clinton Correctional placed on leave

DANNEMORA, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Twelve staffers at the Clinton Correctional Facility have been placed on administrative leave, including two high-profile officials.

Convicted murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat escaped from the maximum security prison on June 6. Prison seamstress Joyce Mitchell has been arrested for allegedly providing power tools to the inmates.

Corrections officer Gene Palmer was also arrested after admitting to giving the men meat that contained tools, though his attorney said Palmer didn’t know tools were in the meat.

Matt was shot and killed by a U.S. border patrol member on Friday near the town of Malone. Sweat was shot and captured by authorities on Sunday. He is being treated at Albany Medical Center where his condition has been upgraded to fair.

On Tuesday, a source close to the investigation confirmed the warden and his second command are both on administrative leave. The source also said more could follow.

From his hospital bed, Sweat continued to provide more information about the prison break and the three-week manhunt that followed. The Clinton County District Attorney said Sweat told investigators they didn’t use power tools in the escape.

Instead, they only used a hacksaw blade to cut through their cell block walls. Their work started in January.

Meanwhile, the investigation into the prison break continues. The Department of Corrections put 12 employees on administrative leave. ABC news reported Superintendent Steven Racette was among them.

A new leadership team is being brought in.

“It takes a unique individual to work inside prison walls,” NYSCOPBA spokesman James Miller said. “It’s a difficult job.”

New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Associaton, Inc., or NYSCOPBA, is the union that represents the nine security staff members who are also now on leave.

Some reports claim the FBI is looking into drug trafficking at Clinton Correctional.

“That was something that concerned us today,” Miller said. “That’s one of the things about information that’s going on. Obviously, this is a national, high profile case – investigation and search. And there was a lot of media attention out there, and there are a number of sources, unnamed sources, providing information to the media. Some was accurate; a lot of it was not.”

New York Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott is looking into the incident. Her office has declined to comment.

Hospital officials said Sweat will likely be in Albany Med for several more days.

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