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Bustos calls on president to include funding for Thomson Correctional Center in FY14 budget

April 4, 2013

Online Staff Report

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., sent a letter to President Barack Obama (D) April 3 urging him to include funding for the activation of Thomson Correctional Center in his upcoming FY14 budget proposal, which will be released April 10.

Bustos said the Thomson Correctional Center would not only alleviate national prison overcrowding, but would also add 1,100 local jobs to the region and lead to local economic growth.

The Thomson facility, just north of Thomson, Ill., in northwest Illinois along the Mississippi River, was built in 2001 by the State of Illinois as a state-of-the-art, maximum-security prison to house the most severe criminal offenders. The bulk of the facility was never occupied, however, and is sitting vacant. The facility was constructed on a 146-acre piece of land and has 1,600 beds with eight compartmentalized units designed for maximum inmate supervision and control. The facility is enclosed by a 12-foot exterior fence and 15-foot interior fence, which includes a dual-sided electric stun fence.

Following is a copy of Bustos’ letter to the president:

The President

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I am requesting that you prioritize the activation of Illinois’ Thomson Correctional Center in your FY14 budget proposal. According to the Bureau of Prisons (BoP), $168 million is needed to begin the process of activating and staffing this long-delayed facility that the Department of Justice purchased from the State of Illinois in October 2012 to address the chronic overcrowding of our federal prison system.

Higher security prison facilities, including penitentiaries, are currently operating at 54 percent over capacity and medium-security institutions are 44 percent over capacity. This critical problem puts the security staff and inmates alike at risk. The Thomson Correctional Center can immediately alleviate some of this overcrowding with high-security bed space that would accommodate 2,600 high-security inmates, in addition to 200 minimum security inmates.

Overcrowding also strains the infrastructure of BoP facilities, including water, sewage, and power systems. The frustration and anger from a lack of resources is a precursor to inmate violence, which poses additional risk to prison staff and other inmates.

Thomson prison, when fully activated, would also add 1,100 jobs in our region and is expected to generate more than $122 million in local expenditures, $19 million in labor income, and $61 million in sales at local small businesses. The prison’s activation would not only be good for our economy, it would generate a sense of pride amongst the surrounding communities to see the dormant facility, that to this point has been a constant reminder of broken promises, finally be put to good use.

On behalf of the prison staff who risk their lives daily in crowded prisons throughout the country, as well as my constituents in Illinois’ 17th Congressional District, thank you in advance for your consideration of this important request.

Sincerely,

Cheri Bustos

Member of Congress

Posted April 4, 2013

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