Durbin and Bustos urge activation of Thomson prison after funding approved

July 19, 2013

Online Staff Report

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., announced July 18 that the Senate Appropriations Committee, of which Durbin is a member, approved funding for the activation of the Thomson correctional facility in Thomson, Ill., at the level that was requested by President Barack Obama in his fiscal year 2014 budget proposal, which was delivered to Congress last April. Durbin and Bustos plan to meet with officials from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Prisons soon to discuss the activation of Thomson.

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.

Activating Thomson prison to help relieve overcrowding in our prison system is a priority for President Obama, it’s a priority for the Senate and it is a priority for the Illinois delegation,” said Durbin. “We still have a long way to go to bring this funding to Illinois, but we are making progress every day. Congresswoman Bustos and I will continue working closely to make certain that funding is made available as soon as possible to create over 1,100 jobs and bring millions of dollars in new economic activity to Illinois.”

Bustos added: “I’m thrilled that we are yet another step closer to the opening of Thomson prison. Thomson prison would not only alleviate overcrowding in our prison system, but its opening will be an economic boon for our region of Illinois, and I’m pleased that both the president and the U.S. Senate have made this a priority. I look forward to continuing to work with Sen. Durbin and the Bureau of Prisons to continue our progress in keeping this job-creating facility on track to open.”

The Senate’s FY2014 Commerce, Justice, Science and related agencies appropriations bill includes $166.3 million to begin the activation of Thomson prison and two other prisons, acquire 1,000 private contract beds and to expand a program to reduce recidivism rates. This amount would likely cover the entire cost of upgrades and renovations to the facility.

The full activation of Thomson prison is expected to take two years at a cost of $25 million in fiscal year 2014 for upgrades and renovations and $168 million in fiscal year 2015 for equipment and staffing. Today’s legislation includes language that would require the Bureau of Prisons to notify Congress if they are not able to adhere to that activation schedule.

In April, Bustos joined with U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, in writing a letter urging the House Appropriations Committee to provide funding for the activation of Thomson Prison in their appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2014. Earlier, Bustos called on President Obama to include funding for the activation of Thomson prison in his FY 2014 budget proposal. When President Obama released his budget proposal, it did include funding to begin the activation of Thomson prison and two other prisons.

Posted July 19, 2013

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