Assuming that you are using the default folder lock timeout of 60 minutes, then I suspect you probably need to alter user behaviour and/or alter your solution.
Folder locks are useful for helping to divide up work amongst users dynamically, but there's a timeout for a reason. A folder locked to a user means that work on that folder cannot be done by any other user - including the pseudo-user responsible for carrying out system actions. Normally the desirable behavour of a system is to allow as much throughput as possible; but folder locks effectively act as bottlenecks to achieving such throughput.
It is for this reason that folder lock timeouts are seen as desirable. It is possible to remove folder lock timeouts altogether (by setting it to zero); or by lengthening the timeout; but this requires serious thought since the side-effects of going this way may well be even less desirable than the current situation you are trying to remedy.
For the situation you describe to occur requires that users are starting actions, and then failing to commit (or cancel) these actions in a timely fashion. Really you want to stop this situation occurring - or at least make it a rare occurence.
You could address this by educating users to reduce the time they take to perform an action.
Or in fact the reason for this behaviour may have another cause - for example, huge forms which take too long to fill in.
In this instance it makes sense to look at ways to break up such interactions into bite-sized and easily-completed pieces. Meaning that any one action can be performed in a relatively quick time.
Building on this, you could break this series of steps into a number of loopback actions at a stage, with the folder only moving to the next stage when that work is deemed complete.
But it may be that you do have a requirement to ensure that an action needs to performed by one user - and one user only - at a time, possibly over some duration of time. In this case you could look at having a "pick up" action which moves the folder to a separate stage, and which only allows the nominated user with this folder on the ToDo list to perform any actions on it.
In that instance, you would need to ensure that no system actions could intrude. So maybe that requires a separate (but associated) map/process to manage this.
These are just a few ideas off the top of my head.