U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17) met today with local community leaders to brief them on the progress and next steps in the activation of Thomson Prison, which the federal government purchased from the State of Illinois at Durbin’s urging last year. The two were accompanied at today’s meeting by Bill Dalius, the Assistant Director for Administration of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), who oversees facility and budget development for the agency.
“For the people of Thomson and the surrounding area, the activation of this prison has been a long time coming,” Durbin said. “Opening Thomson will bring much-needed jobs and economic growth to Northern Illinois and reduce overcrowding in our federal prison system. The activation process will take time, but officials from the Bureau of Prisons and the Obama Administration are fully committed to opening the prison and are doing all they can to prepare for that day. I will continue doing everything I can to keep the renovating, equipping and staffing of the prison on track.”
"Thomson prison would not only alleviate overcrowding in our prison system, but its opening will be an economic boon for our region of Illinois,” Bustos said. “I’m encouraged that the Obama Administration, the Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Senate, and the Illinois congressional delegation have all made opening Thomson a priority. I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Durbin and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to continue our progress in keeping this job-creating facility on track to open.”
Last month, Durbin and Bustos met in Washington with BOP Director Charles Samuels to discuss Thomson’s activation. In July, the Senate Appropriations Committee, on which Durbin sits, approved the FY2014 Commerce, Justice, Science and related agencies appropriations bill, which included $166.3 million to begin the activation of Thomson prison and two other prisons, acquire 1,000 private contract beds and to expand a program to reduce recidivism rates. This amount would likely cover the entire cost of upgrades and renovations to the facility. The bill now moves to the Senate floor for debate and then to a House-Senate Conference Committee.
In October 2012, Durbin announced that the federal government had purchased Thomson Correctional Center for use as a maximum-security federal prison to alleviate overcrowding in the federal prison system. The federal government’s operation of Thomson is expected to provide a major boost to the local economy and create more than 1,100 jobs. Annual operation of the facility is expected to generate more than $122 million in operating expenditures (including salaries), $19 million in labor income, and $61 million in local business sales.
The Thomson facility was built in 2001 by the State of Illinois as a state-of-the-art, maximum-security prison to house the most severe criminal offenders. The bulk of the facility was never occupied, however, and is sitting vacant. The facility was constructed on a 146-acre piece of land and has 1,600 beds with eight compartmentalized units designed for maximum inmate supervision and control. The facility is enclosed by a 12-foot exterior fence and 15-foot interior fence, which includes a dual sided electric stun fence.
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