Taxpayers Keep Paying For Mitchell’s Mistake

Joyce Mitchell pleaded guilty to first-degree promotion of prison contraband, a felony, and fourth-degree criminal facilitation, a misdemeanor.

Her actions had resulted in a long and expensive manhunt for inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat.

Other expensive public costs resulting from Mitchell’s criminal actions are the legal bills that Clinton County is objecting to having to pay, plus her state pension. Then there is also the cost of the incarceration she will face when she is scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 28.

With state and local governments in dire straits for money, this example sets off a chain of expenses that will eventually bankrupt New York state if changes aren’t made.

First, the cost of the manhunt was roughly estimated at $1 million a day, then her legal bills. (Clinton County spends about $1.5 million on the assigned counsel program.) Then the cost of incarceration, which is estimated to be an annual taxpayer cost of $31,286 (according to a study in 40 states released in 2012 by Vera Institute of Justice). With Mitchell facing between 27 months and seven years in prison, that could chalk up as much as $217,000 for her stint.

The last straw is that Mitchell will be getting her pension, estimated to be $192,000, and there is nothing we can do about it because it is part of the New York Constitution. This immutable state law to pay a pension and health care benefits to a convicted felon is ludicrous.

This isn’t sustainable, and it certainly isn’t right or just that taxpayers have to pay pensions to people who have committed crimes when taxpayers have to save for their own retirement as law-abiding citizens.

We encourage Albany to come up with an amendment to the Constitution to take away pensions from state employees who have been convicted of a crime now, before New York state and taxpayers are driven to bankruptcy.

We also encourage residents to contact their state representatives.