Nearly a year ago, inmates at Illinois’ Thomson Correctional Facility were moved out in anticipation of the federal government’s buying the underused prison for detainees from Guantanamo Bay. That plan has been blocked by congressional opposition to transferring any Gitmo prisoners to the United States. The St. Louis Beacon quotes U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) as being optimistic that the U.S. Bureau of Prisons is close to finalizing a deal to buy Thomson from Illinois for $170 million. He believes Congress eventually will fund conversion of the prison for inmates other than the Gitmo detainees.
Durbin noted strong local backing because a reopened prison would create more than 1,100 jobs. “Our federal prisons are overcrowded, and if we can get a good price for the Thomson prison — and I think we can — it would be a good investment for the federal government, instead of building a new prison,” Durbin told the Beacon. “It would also be some money for the state of Illinois, and we sure need it.”