Top federal prison official plans to fully utilize Thomson Correctional Center
From press release
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The head of the federal prison system told U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo (R-16) that he would fill the vacant, state-owned Thomson Correctional Center with up to 2,600 federal inmates and would not reserve any beds for the GITMO terrorists if Congress approves funding to purchase Thomson and run it as a federal prison.
Manzullo proposed such a plan to the president two weeks ago and discussed it last week with Bureau of Prisons Director Harley Lappin. Manzullo received a letter from the Department of Justice this afternoon (June 21) agreeing that Lappin has the authority to fully utilize Thomson as a federal prison. That authority would allow Lappin to fill Thomson with an extra 1,000 federal inmates, further alleviating the federal prison system’s massive overcrowding.
On his first full day in office last year, President Barack Obama (D) signed an executive order to close the U.S. military’s terrorist detainee camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (GITMO) within one year and transfer all the remaining terrorists still in U.S. custody to American soil. The Obama administration later determined the underutilized state prison in Thomson, Ill., would become the new home for the terrorists. The president’s plan called for the Bureau of Prisons to utilize five of the “pods” for about 1,600 federal inmates in Thomson and lease out the remaining three pods to the Department of Defense to house the estimated 50 to 100 remaining terrorists.
But federal law prohibits bringing terrorists captured overseas in the battlefield into the United States, and the president needs authorization from Congress—as well as a $350 million appropriation—to move the GITMO terrorists to northwest Illinois. With a weary American public fed up with wasteful spending and opposed 2-1 to bringing the terrorists to the United States, Congress has resoundingly rebuffed the president on the Thomson plan several times this year.
In late May, the House voted 282-131 (with 114 Democrats joining 168 Republicans) for an amendment to the FY 2001 Department of Defense Authorization bill (H.R. 5136) to prohibit the administration from bringing any GITMO terrorists into the United States. Five Illinois Democrats joined all Illinois Republicans in supporting the amendment, which would keep the terrorists out of Illinois. And in the Senate, members of the Armed Services Committee voted to strip money from the base bill that would have funded moving the terrorists to Thomson.
Manzullo, who represents the people of Thomson and Carroll County, has always supported opening the now vacant state facility as a federal prison without the terrorists. Since the president’s plan for Thomson was announced last November, Manzullo was concerned the controversial GITMO portion of the proposal would swamp efforts to open Thomson as a federal prison and create much-needed jobs for the people of northwest Illinois. Manzullo asked the president to separate the issues and was relieved when he received a letter back from the administration in March stating they planned to purchase and open Thomson as a federal prison even if they could not get authorization from Congress to move the GITMO terrorists there. However, the Obama administration initially planned to keep three of the pods at Thomson vacant in case Congress changed its mind on allowing GITMO terrorists to enter U.S. soil.
In a letter to the president earlier this month, Manzullo again asked him to recognize Congress’ strong opposition to bringing the terrorists inside the United States and to purchase and fully utilize Thomson as a federal prison without the terrorists. Lappin said he will proceed with that plan to occupy all eight pods with maximum security prisoners unless Congress changes its mind and gives the president the authority to move the GITMO terrorists inside the United States.
“I thank Director Lappin for his common-sense plan to fully utilize Thomson as a federal prison without the terrorists,” Manzullo said. “With the maximum security division at 152 percent capacity, it makes no sense to leave 600 cells vacant in case Congress changes its mind on the terrorists. The plan to fully utilize Thomson as a federal prison will bring up to 1,000 more federal inmates to Thomson and further reduce the system’s massive overcrowding while providing more jobs for the people of northwest Illinois.”
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