A northern Illinois prison could reopen in two years. President Obama's budget proposal includes $166 million dollars for the Thomson Correctional Center and two other prisons. if fully funded by Congress, the proposal would cover the cost of upgrades, equipment, and staffing at the facility.
Federal officials are taking initial steps in their plans to open the Thomson Correctional Center. They say they’re eager to activate the modern, but little-used facility, which was sold by the state of Illinois last fall. As the process unfolds, people in and around Thomson are guarded in their optimism about the economic jolt the prison is expected to provide.
The federal Bureau of Prisons today filed documents in federal court in Rockford to acquire Thomson Correctional Center at a price of $165 million. More than 1,100 jobs are expected to be generated once the facility is fully operational.
The announcement was made this afternoon at the prison by Gov. Pat Quinn, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Thomson Mayor Jerry “Duke” Hebeler, who initially proposed in 2009 that the prison be sold to the federal government as an economic boost to the area.
State Senator Mike Jacobs says it would not be good government policy to give the Thomson Correctional Center to the federal government. That suggestion came in a letter from State Representatives Jim Sacia and Rich Morthland. The two Republicans have sent a letter to Governor Pat Quinn saying that handing over Thomson to the feds would get the ball rolling on creating much needed jobs for the area surrounding Thomson.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is rejecting calls to reduce the asking price for a state prison the federal government wants to buy. He’s also rejecting the idea that Illinois should not try to sell the federal government two prisons at once.
Thomson Correctional Center, in northwest Illinois, has barely been used in the decade since it was built. Illinois and the federal government agreed to a price of $165 million -- significantly less than the $220 million dollars at which that facility has been appraised.
And Quinn plans to close the super-maximum security prison at Tamms, in southern Illinois, as a cost-saving move. It's one of the newest state prisons and, once it's empty, Quinn hopes the federal government will be interested in buying it as well as Thomson.