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2 escape from Columbia prison in Portage

PORTAGE, Wis. (AP) — Sheriff’s officials say two prisoners have escaped from the state maximum-security prison in Portage.

Residents in the area received automated phone calls about the prison escape about 6 a.m. Thursday and were urged to lock their doors.

Columbia County Sheriff Roger Brandner said numerous law enforcement officers are looking for 37-year-old James Newman and 46-year-old Thomas Deering.

Authorities did not say how the two escaped from the Columbia Correctional Institution.

The Department of Corrections is working with local law enforcement officials who are taking the lead in the investigation, DOC spokesman Ray Woodruff said.

According to online records, Deering was convicted of numerous charges in Milwaukee County including kidnapping, sexual assault and burglary. He was also convicted of battery by a prisoner in 2015 and an escape charge in 2002.

Newman has convictions for kidnapping, escape, theft and discharging a firearm.

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