Thomson prison

Voices for Creative Non-Violence / vcnv.org

A 125-mile walk from Chicago to Thomson ends Saturday for a group protesting solitary confinement. 

Voices for Creative Non-Violence holds a rally outside Thomson Prison, where the federal government plans to add as many as 19-hundred isolation cells. The group’s co-coordinator Kathy Kelly says she hopes Thomson residents will join their rally.  She says she sees this as “the beginning of an opportunity to learn more from people in this little town of 600.”

Jenna Dooley

237 positions are currently filled at the Thomson facility. According to a spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons, 13 additional positions have been selected and are expected to report within the next few months, bringing the total staff to 250.

There are currently 104 minimum security inmates housed at the institution.

Thomson Village President Vicky Trager:

Jenna Dooley

There’s activity at a long-dormant prison in northwest Illinois. Residents in Thomson have lived more than a decade in limbo waiting for it to open. Now, it’s time.

Ready for Change

At a recent prayer service in Thomson, longtime resident Arlene Eslinger says she has a lot on her heart these days. She says residents are getting older. People want change, but Eslinger fears Thomson isn’t prepared for an influx of prison workers and their families.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

Hiring is underway for the long-shuttered Thomson Prison in northwest Illinois.

Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesperson Chris Burke confirmed to WNIJ Friday morning that there are 15 job openings for Thomson through USAJobs.gov. He did not have specifics of those positions.

Durbin.senate.gov

The spending bill introduced in Congress this week includes funding to open Thomson Prison in northwest Illinois. 

The bill must now be voted on in both chambers and signed into law by President Obama. 

The measure does not detail how this funding will be spent.

According to a news release from U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and Rep. Cheri Bustos, the full activation of Thomson is expected to take two years at a cost of $25 million for upgrades and renovations and $170 million for equipment and staffing. 

Funding Still A Roadblock For Thomson Prison

Sep 6, 2013
Thomson Correctional Center

Federal officials remain committed to opening a vacant prison in northwest Illinois. But securing funding remains a key obstacle in getting the facility in Thomson up and running.

Thomson Could Be Ready In Two Years

Apr 11, 2013
Thomson Correctional Center

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.

The state of Illinois is still trying to sell Thomson prison to the federal government. One lawmaker wants Governor Pat Quinn to consider giving it away.

Concerns over the sort of inmates that would be housed at the Illinois prison have delayed efforts by the federal government to purchase it from the state. U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder tried to calm those fears Tuesday.