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2 Buncombe County inmates on work release facing charges

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For the second time in the last 10 days, an inmate on work release from the Craggy Correctional Center in Buncombe County is facing charges. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

For the second time in the last 10 days, an inmate on work release from the Craggy Correctional Center in Buncombe County is facing charges.

According to the Woodfin Police Department, Steven W. Coleman turned himself in to police early Friday morning after walking out of his work release job in Weaverville on Thursday afternoon. Coleman is now facing charges for escape.

This follows another incident of an inmate on work release last week who is accused of attempted rape when he asked a woman near his job site to use her restroom.

According to the Department of Public Safety's website, the work release program is meant to address the transitional needs of soon-to-be-released inmates, and the program provides an opportunity for inmates to support their families and to reduce the economic costs of their imprisonment.

Out of approximately 35,600 inmates in the state of North Carolina, some 1,194 prisoners -- or just over 3 percent --are employed through the program.

They work jobs like construction, landscaping and hospitality, but they cannot work in schools.


Employers of the inmates are required to take an orientation and must act as the inmates' supervisor while they're on the job. The inmates are not directly supervised by any correctional staff while at work, but the employers are subject to unannounced inspections to ensure proper procedures are followed.

The program is available to inmates at some minimum security prisons, like Craggy Correctional Center. Participants are chosen based on their sentence and record of behavior, and must be in the final stage of imprisonment.

Some inmates on work release have been charged with crimes ranging from hit and run to drug trafficking.

The Department of Public safety issues a press release every time an inmate escapes from prison or from work release. Since 2016, 22 press releases have been issued for escapees.

Ten of those who escaped were on work release assignments.

From 2009-2018, 14 inmates have committed infractions considered serious enough to be removed from the program. That statistic does not include two cases this year.

Statistics have shown inmates on work release are less likely to be re-incarcerated after being released from a correctional facility.

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