DOC fires 7 staff following investigations into Columbia County prison escape

Columbia Correctional Institution

PORTAGE, Wis. — The state Department of Corrections Office of Internal Affairs has completed 13 different personnel investigations after two inmates escaped from the Columbia Correctional Institution back in April.

The following changes have been made as a result of the investigations:

  • 7 staff members were terminated.
  • 1 staff member was suspended for five days.
  • 1 staff member has been cleared.
  • 4 staff members resigned during the course of the investigations.

Employees who are affected by the changes were informed Thursday.

Out of the eight employees who have been disciplined, six have the right to appeal the decision in their respective cases. Officials said two of the employees who were terminated were still in their probationary period and cannot appeal.

“These are tough decisions that bring pleasure to no one in our agency,” said Department of Corrections Secretary Kevin A. Carr. “But I cannot tolerate job performance that compromises public safety. We take that responsibility very seriously.”

On April 16, Thomas Deering and James Newman escaped CCI before being captured in Rockford, Illinois, the following day.

“We want to once more recognize the efforts of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, City of Portage Police Department, Rockford Police Department, U.S. Marshall’s Office and FBI in capturing the fugitives,” Carr said. “We are grateful for their hard work and cooperation.”

Thomas Deering, James Newman 1280

Thomas Deering and James Newman