- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - An inmate escaped Tuesday afternoon from a southern Illinois prison, officials said.

Marcus Battice, 21, got over the fence at Vandalia Correctional Center about 2 p.m., according to Tom Shaer, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Shaer said the way Battice got out from the rear of the facility remains under investigation.

Battice was serving a four-year sentence for unlawful possession of a stolen vehicle in Cook County. He was scheduled for release Jan. 18, 2015.

Shaer said the Illinois State Police is assisting the Corrections Department. Search dogs from the county sheriff’s department have been deployed as well as staff from other state prisons.

According to Corrections records, Battice is a black man, 5-foot-9 and 167 pounds, wearing a blue shirt, dark pants and white sneakers.

While Battice was not imprisoned for a violent offense, Shaer said the public should contact law enforcement authorities if they see Battice and not try to make contact with him.

Vandalia is about 70 miles northeast of St. Louis.

Shaer said it is the first actual escape from a prison “in years.”

Jared Carter walked away from a prison work crew outside the walls of Robinson Correctional Center in August 2013 and was captured Sept. 3 of that year in a town about seven miles away. He was sentenced to 11 more years in prison.

Department records indicate Battice was sentenced to three years in 2010 for burglary in DuPage County. Shaer said he graduated from the IDOC Impact Incarceration Program, known as “boot camp,” and was discharged in October 2012.

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