Local News

Work-Release Program Investigated After Inmates Caught in Prostitution Sting

Posted July 16, 2007 11:35 p.m. EDT
Updated July 18, 2007 9:15 a.m. EDT

— 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.