ROMULUS, N.Y. (AP) — The surviving escapee from a prison break and three-week manhunt will spend 23 hours a day in a maximum-security cell, much more confined than he and a fellow murder convict were in the prison from which they managed a getaway, officials said Sunday.
David Sweat, who was shot and wounded during his June 28 capture, was taken early Sunday from Albany Medical Center to the infirmary at the Five Points Correctional Facility in the central New York town of Romulus, the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said in a news release.
After at least 24 hours in the infirmary for a medical evaluation, he’ll be among the up to 150 men held in its Special Housing Unit, where each prisoner sleeps, eats, washes and spends nearly all his time in a 105-square-foot cell with a bed, a writing platform, a toilet, a sink and a shower. The inmates generally are allowed out of their cells to exercise for an hour a day.
Sweat, 35, will be put on suicide watch, the corrections department noted.
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Set about 200 miles west of Albany amid New York’s Finger Lakes, the 1,300-inmate prison opened in 2000. It housed convicted murderer Timothy Vail for a time after he and another inmate scaled down a homemade rope to escape from Elmira Correctional Facility in 2003.
Five Points Correctional is 155 years newer than Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, from which Sweat and fellow inmate Richard Matt escaped June 6.
Authorities said Matt and Sweat cut through their adjoining cell walls over months, climbed down catwalks to tunnels, got hold of contractors’ tools, broke through a brick wall, cut into and out of a steam pipe and cut a chain holding a manhole cover outside the prison to get away. Sweat is serving a life sentence for killing a sheriff’s deputy; Matt, 49, was serving 25 years to life after being convicted of kidnapping and dismembering his former boss.
Clinton Correctional is maximum-security, but as residents of the prison’s “honor” block and workers in its tailor shop, Matt and Sweat were able to spend considerable time out of their cells.
They got a guard to give them art supplies, tools and access to a catwalk in exchange for favors and paintings, and they shared their escape plans with a tailor-shop instructor who gave them hacksaw blades and even agreed to be their getaway driver before she backed out, prosecutors said. The guard and instructor have pleaded not guilty to various charges.
The prison’s then-superintendent and 11 other staffers were put on leave after the escape. The honor block has been temporarily closed, and new security measures are being enacted.
Matt was shot dead when a U.S. border patrol team caught up with him June 26 in woods near Malone, about 30 miles from Clinton Correctional and near the Canadian border. Sweat was captured a few miles away, in Constable, two days later.