Married Prison Worker Details Affair With Inmate: 'You Make Yourself Justify Why It Is OK'

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A New York prison worker has been sentenced to a year behind bars after she admitted to having an affair with an inmate. 

The story is in some ways similar to that surrounding the Clinton Correctional Facility prison break that made international headlines in 2015; in fact, it happened at the same prison from which the two inmates, Richard Matt and David Sweat, escaped

In that case, Joyce Mitchell, an instructor at the prison's tailor shop, helped Matt and Sweat break out after becoming sexually involved with both of them. Mitchell was married at the time and remains married today.

Denise Prell, 38, a sewing teacher, was working at the same tailor shop Mitchell once did when she fell for Paul Norris, who was serving a 20-year sentence at Clinton Correctional for first-degree manslaughter.

She opened up to Inside Edition about her relationship with Norris. 

“You make yourself justify why it is OK," she said. "Now, I look back and I am like, ‘What were you thinking?’ like everyone says.”

When asked if she was gullible, Prell replied, “I guess.” 

Like Mitchell, Prell was also married when she became involved with an inmate. Now, they're getting a divorce and her husband has been given primary custody of their two children.

But she said the affair didn't ruin her married because that was "ruined a long time ago.”

When prison officials grew suspicious and questioned Prell, she admitted to kissing Norris, giving him money and sending money orders to his prison account. Prell insisted that she would have never helped Norris escape, however.

Prell later pleaded guilty to sexual abuse and official misconduct, and was sentenced to a year in prison just hours after speaking with Inside Edition.

Her lawyer, Justin Herzog, said his client's situation is not comparable to the 2015 prison escape. “There was a prison escape, there were suggestions of a murder plot against somebody’s husband – just a bunch of lawlessness,” he told Inside Edition of the incident involving Mitchell. “This here is just misplaced romance.” 

Prell told Inside Edition that she doesn’t want her kids to visit her in jail. “I don’t want them to see me like that because I think it will break them,” she said tearfully.

Norris, meanwhile, has denied an affair ever took place. He has since been transferred to another prison.


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