A near-empty prison in rural Illinois has emerged as a leading option”to house terrorism suspects currently held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, reports the Los Angeles Times. As they work to close the controversial detention center, federal officials are talking to Illinois officials about buying the Thomson Correctional Center, a maximum-security prison 150 miles west of Chicago. A facility would be used to house the Guantanamo detainees, who now number about 215.
Officials are studying contemplating the details, including how they would persuade Congress to change a law that bars Guantanamo detainees from being moved to the U.S. except for trial. In 2001, Illinois finished the $145-million Thomson complex, a maximum-security institution to house its most dangerous inmates. A tightening state budget crisis has left the prison practically unused for eight years. It has 1,600 cells yet holds only 144 inmates.