By Ellen Wulfhorst
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Rigorous new security procedures have been implemented during the past four weeks at the New York prison that is under investigation after two inmates staged a brazen breakout last month, officials said on Wednesday.
Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered the investigation after convicted murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat fled Clinton Correctional Facility by cutting through cell walls, climbing down a catwalk, maneuvering through a steam pipe and emerging from an outside manhole.
Matt, 49, was shot and killed on Friday after nearly three weeks on the run, and Sweat, 35, was captured on Sunday.
Twelve employees have been put on leave, and a corrections officer and prison employee have been charged with providing tools to the escapees. Two of those put on leave were guards on duty during the shift when the pair escaped, the New York Times reported.
Officials began implementing the new procedures at Clinton on June 6, the day the two were discovered missing during an early morning count, the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said.
Inspections of cells and catwalks and nightly bed checks, as well as searches for contraband, have been stepped up, it said.
The state's largest maximum-security facility, Clinton holds about 3,000 inmates and employs more than 900 corrections officers.
It is located in Dannemora, about 20 miles (30 km) south of the Canadian border and more than 300 miles (480 km) north of New York City.
The prison entrance is now more closely supervised during shift changes to enforce screening procedures, and toolboxes used in prison work are inspected and inaccessible to inmates, the corrections department said.
Matt and Sweat used contractors' tools left in the prison's tunnels when they escaped, officials said. Tunnels are now being inspected monthly, rather than twice a year, and fitted with security gates.
Officials have named a new superintendent, Michael Kirkpatrick, to head Clinton. A 30-year corrections veteran who most recently worked at Elmira Correctional Facility in New York, he replaces Steven Racette, who has been put on leave.
Since his capture, Sweat has been hospitalized in Albany, where he is listed in fair condition. He was shot in the torso during his capture by police near the Canadian border.
No members of Matt's family met a Tuesday deadline to claim his body, and he may be buried by Franklin County, New York, where he was gunned down by a federal agent, officials said.
(Additional reporting by Katie Reilly; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Mohammad Zargham)