Escape from Dannemora

Richard Matt, David Sweat, and the Great Adirondack Manhunt

Michael Benson

It was one of the biggest crime stories of the decade—two deadly killers, desperate and on the run. After months of planning, Ricky Matt and David Sweat cut, chopped, coerced, and connived their way out of a maximum-security prison in the wilderness of upstate New York and managed to elude police for three weeks, sending the region into lockdown and keeping the entire country on edge. The media called it “a bold escape for the ages,” and veteran true-crime writer Michael Benson leads us along the story’s every wild path to dig out a tale of adventure, psychology, sex, and brutality. Escape from Dannemora examines the strange case of Joyce Mitchell, the long-time prison employee who had a sexual relationship with at least one of the killers, and who smuggled them tools and aided in the escape, while they cooked up a plan to kill her husband. In the end, Benson looks closely at conditions at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, NY, a crumbling Gothic pile now under investigation for charges of drug trafficking and brutality.

Paper: $19.95 | E-book: $19.99
ISBN-13: 9781611689761
Pages: 256 | Size: 6 in. x 9 in.
Date Published: April 4, 2017


  • A solid read and informative text about prison management, this book will be of interest to students and staff involved in correctional facilities and general readers of true crime.

    Library Journal
  • While Benson easily achieves the two goals of compiling information and writing a captivating story, he achieves something more difficult. He illuminates the relationship between the Dannemora prison and the community it resides in, with all the complexities inherent between them.

    Adirondack Daily Enterprise
  • Escape from Dannemora is not just an epic history of a notorious prison and its staggering security lapses. It’s also a riveting tale of how lust, seduction, and egregious negligence allowed two unabashed killers to escape-prompting a three-week manhunt that ended in bullets and bloodshed. . . . A phenomenal read.

    Michele R. McPhee
    bestselling author of Maximum Harm and A Mob Story
  • What we want is true crime with depth, flare, and journalistic principles, leaving the pomp and circumstance to the amateurs. Escape from Dannemora delivers on those levels, but also brings us deep into the psychological tones of a story we think we know. . . . The book is all at once engaging, historical, and thrilling. Michael Benson brings us behind the scenes of this dangerous, violent and riveting high-profile manhunt. Perfectly paced, finely drawn . . . fascinating.

    M. William Phelps
    New York Times bestselling author of Dangerous Ground: My Friendship with a Serial Killer
  • Escape from Dannemora is a captivating story with everything a reader could want: breathtaking detail, historical context, well-developed characters, and a pace that leaves you wanting more.

    Paula Reed Ward
    author of Death By Cyanide

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