- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois Department of Corrections officials Wednesday called an inmate’s escape from a southern Illinois prison “unacceptable” and pledged to review the area’s physical surroundings to prevent similar incidents.

However, at the same time, IDOC spokesman Tom Shaer said there was “no systemic issue” regarding attempted escapes at prisons, noting this was the first incident the department had seen in over a year.

Illinois State Police on Wednesday morning took 21-year-old Marcus Battice into custody, after finding him walking north on a gravel frontage road next to Interstate 70, Shaer said.

Vandalia prison’s health care unit was to examine him before Battice was transferred to the maximum security Pontiac Correctional Center where he would be placed in segregation as an escapee, Shaer said.

Battice got over the fence at the Vandalia facility - located about 70 miles northeast of St. Louis - about 2 p.m. on Tuesday. Search dogs from the county sheriff’s department were deployed in the search as well as staff from other state prisons.

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 Department of Corrections plans to work with the Fayette County State’s Attorney’s office to pursue criminal charges. But first, IDOC must conclude its investigation, which Shaer said “could take a while.”

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