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Work-Release Program Investigated After Inmates Caught in Prostitution Sting

Posted July 16, 2007
Updated July 18, 2007

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— Durham's Department of Correction began an investigation into its work-release program after three inmates were arrested during a prostitution sting this weekend.

The three inmates were working at the Kentucky Fried Chicken/Taco Bell outlet on Hillsborough Road on Friday. A manager let Rodney Robinson, Albert Green and Elvis Poole wait in her car after their shift..

The men drove to the area near Angier Avenue and Juniper Street and solicited a person who they thought was a prostitute, authorities said. The person, however, was a Durham police officer, who arrested them.

The supervisor violated policy by allowing the three inmates to sit in her car unattended, said DOC officials.

"We're obviously disappointed in these inmates and the work-release employer who was supervising them," said DOC spokesman Keith Acree said.

The incident has spurred DOC officials to take a closer look at a system they said is largely based on trust between the inmates and employers.

"Inmates who are in work release are in a position of trust. They worked their way through the sytsem to gain that. They have a whole lot to lose when they try something like this," Acree said.

Thirty-five men are participating in the work-release program at the Durham Correctional Facility on Guess Road, where the three inmates are housed. The work-release inmates are largely employed by construction companies and fast-food chains.

At any time, the Department of Correction has about 1,400 inmates statewide in the work-release program. To qualify, inmates must have had a long period of good behavior and be within five years of a release date.

Buck Dickerson, general manager of Honey's restaurant in Durham, said he's "had nothing but positive experiences" in the 20 years he's been employing work-release inmates.

"You have inmates you know they're gonna be here. You don't have to worry about them showing up for work. They're gonna be on time, so it works out really well," said Dickerson.

DOC officials said that incidents such as this one cast the whole program in a bad light.

"Obviously, we're going to take a look at htis particular work-release situation and evaluate what's going on there," said Acree.

The three inmates made an appearance in court Monday afternoon and are being held in segregation at the Guilford County Correctional Center.


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  • Bon Viveur Jul 18, 2007

    I am saddened by the fact that there is so much negative press about the town of Durham, but let's face facts. In regards to this case could there be anything that plays up on more stereotypes? And even though some folks may hate to admit it, stereotypes are normally based on some type of fact. when you have a story on Durham which features; Prostitution, convicts, KFC and racial undertones all within the same news story, can anyone be surprised at the comments people make?

  • wveagleson Jul 17, 2007

    It's really sad that people make comments about situations that they know nothing about. I previously worked for the department of Correction and where I supervised the work-release and study-release programs. These programs were designed not only to help inmates, but to help their families as well. Inmates involved in work-release HAVE to provide money to their families. They also have to pay for partial room & board which in both instances gives some measure of relief to the tax dollars being spent on them. The programs provide some of them with a skilled trade and hopefully steers them towards being productive citizens. There will always be exceptions to every situation. Both are good programs when supervised properly. Isolated incident do happen periodically, but that is no reason to punish the entire program. And by the way, if the manager at KFC had been doing her job, as promised, this incident would not have happened or at least like it did.

  • lilwil Jul 17, 2007

    The manager should have called the facility and ask that the inmates be picked up after their shift was over.

    Apparently she was involved and knew what was going to happen. She had to give them the keys to her car.

  • gratefultoGOD Jul 17, 2007

    Some people never change... once released from prison.. they will be back looking for a prostitute. Wer need laws like Japan... Dead sentence for drugs... Kill someone.. You die too!! ( unless REALLY self-defense) Toughen up.. on the tough! Tough love works!!!

  • Here kitty kitty Jul 17, 2007

    KFC/K'dale wasn't real inviting either. Haven't been since they remodeled. Hopefully it's better.

  • How about a little common sense Jul 17, 2007

    Friendly, there was not a correctional officer involved in this incident. Correctional officers do not supervise inmates while they are out on work release...The inmates are "released" from prison during the day to "work" at their job. it was the KFC supervisor that violated policy.

  • ABM Jul 17, 2007

    childfree_in_rdu -at- hotmail -dot- com

    Why do you bring Durham into this, do you know if the inmates are even from Durham? Durham is a better place without you..

  • lovecarolinagutters Jul 17, 2007

    I worked for Paris and Potter Co in Fayetteville for 5 years in maintainance. This Co. owned 16 KFC's. I think how the restaurant appears depends on who owns the franchise. With my company we where constantly going from place to place keeping them painted, cleaned up on the outside etc. We were also instructed to report places that were not up to par. This company owns KFC's in Benson, Dunn, Fayetteville and Wilmington. I think you will find them all up to par.

  • Wuff_Pack Jul 17, 2007

    friendlylady, the inmates on work release are unsupervised by the state/county. Meaning, there are no correctional officers present. It is up to the employer(restaurant manager) to supervise them as they would any other employee. The manager of the KFC/Taco Bell used bad judgement in having them wait in her car unsupervised. It is an honor system. The inmates report to work at their specified time and are required to return to their housing when their shift is complete.
    This program works really well. Generally, these inmates are not dangerous to the public and have earned their right to be in this program. AND it's not just KFC that employs these people. I know an Arby's in Raleigh that uses work release inmates.

  • tarheelalum Jul 17, 2007

    Friendlylady: There was no correctional officer on site. The employer let them sit in her car. They then drove themselves to the site where the solicitation occurred. Although it would be nice if a correctional officer was with them during work release, that is not the case. I think the work release program is a great thing that allows these inmates to support their family, learn a trade/skill, and gain employment upon release. There does, however, need to be more supervision.