CCSO addresses concerns regarding escaped inmate’s status in work program

Published 3:25 pm Friday, July 5, 2024

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Following the escape of inmate Billy Fletcher from his work detail at the Carter County Detention Center some in the public have raised concerns regarding Fletcher’s participation in the inmate work program.

Billy Fletcher, 43, of Butler, was on an assigned work detail at the Carter County Detention Center on June 20, 2024, when he walked away from the facility. Fletcher was captured by law enforcement authorities in South Carolina on July 4, 2024. His escape from custody is still currently under investigation by the Carter County Sheriff’s Office.

Following Fletcher’s escape from custody, the Carter County Sheriff’s Office has received questions about Fletcher’s participation in the inmate work program regarding charges placed against Fletcher during a previous arrest.

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Fletcher was serving a three-year sentence following a conviction for violation of probation. Fletcher had been placed on probation following a conviction for attempted aggravated burglary.

The charge which Fletcher was convicted of stems from an incident that occurred in November 2017. In that incident. Fletcher was arrested and charged with domestic assault, aggravated burglary, and kidnapping. When the case came to court, the charges of kidnapping and domestic assault were dismissed by the presiding judge and Fletcher was found guilty of attempted aggravated burglary.

“Our nation’s criminal justice system was founded on the principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty,” Sheriff Mike Fraley said. “In this case, Fletcher was proven guilty of attempted aggravated burglary but not of kidnapping or domestic assault.”

For an inmate to participate in a jail work program, the inmate has to meet certain eligibility qualifications defined in state law. One of those state law requirements deals with their criminal history and what convictions are on their record. “Under our policy, which conforms with state law, an inmate serving time for violent offenses, whether a misdemeanor or a felony, is not eligible to participate in the inmate work program,” Jail Administrator Captain Matt Patterson said. “Before an inmate is assigned to the inmate work program, we run a complete criminal history check on that individual to not only see what their criminal history has been like in Carter County but in other jurisdictions as well.”

At the time Fletcher applied for the inmate work program, a criminal history check revealed Fletcher had convictions for charges of attempted aggravated burglary, violation of probation, and failure to appear out of Carter County, along with a conviction on a misdemeanor count of violation of an order of protection out of another jurisdiction.

“None of Fletcher’s convictions are classified by state law as ‘violent offenses’ that would prohibit him from participating in an inmate work program,” Capt. Patterson said.

Fletcher had been in the inmate work program since January 26, 2024, and during his incarceration was not involved in any disciplinary incidents prior to walking away from his work detail and escaping custody.