Officials captured 22-year-old Jacob Hiton at 4:45 p.m. walking along NC-275, about four miles from the correctional center.
Officials said Hilton was serving three and half years for possession of a firearm by a felon and numerous counts of breaking and entering and larceny.
He has no pending charges and was scheduled for release in October.
Officials thought he might have attempted to contact family or friends in Gastonia or Stanley.
Gaston Correctional Center is a minimum-security prison located in Dallas, N.C. It houses approximately 250 male inmates who are nearing release.