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Manhunt continues for escaped Jacksonville inmate

Deonte Lemarous Cullers, 20, jumped 2 fences to escape a transition center

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Despite a citywide search, an inmate who escaped custody in downtown Jacksonville early Tuesday morning still hasn't been found.

Deonte Lemarous Cullers, 20, was set to be released in January after serving time for non-violent offenses at the Community Transition Center.

Cullers escaped from the center at 451 North Catherine Street by jumping two fences while walking to breakfast. Cullers is described as 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighing between 160 and 170 pounds. He will have cuts on his arms, because one of the fences had barbed wire, police said.

He was last seen wearing a shirt with vertical stripes and "trustee" pants, but officials with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office believe he may have changed out of his jail-issued clothing into dark clothes.

Cullers could face 15 years in prison for the escape, plus the six months he had left to serve.

The center Cullers escaped from helps inmates get ready for society, and one attorney said the escape could affect more than just Cullers.

"As defense attorneys, we really appreciate that option for our clients who are trying to integrate back into society, and this young man is now going to make it more difficult for people to be able to go there, because there's this chance of escape," said attorney Shannon Schott, who is not affiliated with Cullers' case.

Cullers' road to the CTC started in December 2014. His girlfriend at the time called police, saying he pushed her and slapped her in the face after an argument.

He pleaded no contest to simple battery charges, and a judge placed him on nine months' probation.

But in February, police pulled over a car Cullers was driving on the Southside and found marijuana inside. Officers arrested him for possession, and a judge revoked his probation.

In April, a judge sentenced him to nine months in jail, with no early release, meaning he'd be out in January.

Cullers was serving that time at the CTC, a 300-bed, low security facility that focuses on helping inmates become more productive members of society upon their return to the community.

"He's now facing an escape charge, which is a second-degree felony in the state of Florida," Schott said. "He's looking at 15 years in prison. So a young man who has never been to prison before might end up a convicted felon because of a dumb mistake."

Anyone with any information about Cullers' location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS. Callers can can remain anonymous and could be eligible to receive up to $3,000 in reward money.