Thomson prison

Thomson Prison Inches Closer Toward Fully Opening

Feb 8, 2017

The main facility is getting a makeover, and its minimum security work camp is currently housing inmates.

That's according to Thomson Village President Vicky Trager.

The process of making the maximum-security federal prison fully functional has been a long road. 

Illinois built the facility in 2001, but didn’t have enough funds to keep it running, so the federal Bureau of Prisons purchased it in 2012 and took over renovations.  

Trager says officials are working on security upgrades and filling job positions.


U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says a western Illinois federal prison will be fully operational starting late next year.

Durbin visited Thomson Administrative U.S. Penitentiary on Tuesday, saying the schedule is moving forward for the facility but much work remains to be done.

As a federal maximum-security prison, Thomson is expected to house up to 2,800 federal inmates from around the country and create about 100 more jobs.

Voices for Creative Non-Violence /

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.