By Darren Siewert

Police in Portage say two inmates have escaped from the Columbia Correctional Institution and remain at large as of Thursday morning.

James Newman, 37, and Thomas Deering, 46, could be headed toward Madison, though police in Poynette are also searching for suspects there, police said.

Deering was convicted in 2000 of an array of charges includeing kidnapping, second degree sexual assault and burglary. He was later charged with escape, in 2002, and battery to prisoners in 2015, court records show.

Newman was convicted in 2009 in Brown County of gun-related charges, court records show. In 2012, in a Jackson County case, Newman was convicted of escape, kidnapping and theft.

Residents throughout the Portage area are urged to lock their doors, stay indoors and call police to report any suspicious activity. Residents surrounding the prison received an automated phone call at about 6:12 a.m. notifying them of the escape.