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Local

Bustos asks Obama to fund prison

Federal budget to be released next week

STERLING – U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos and an aide to Sen. Dick Durbin say they hope funding to activate Thomson prison will be included in President Barack Obama's upcoming budget.

Bustos, a Democrat from East Moline, sent a letter to the president Wednesday to ask for funding to open the long-dormant prison. The president's fiscal year 2014 budget will be released Wednesday.

In her letter, Bustos said $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."

The state built the 1,600-cell prison a decade ago, then decided it couldn't afford to run it. It sought a buyer for years.

In a news release Wednesday, Bustos said opening the prison would alleviate national prison overcrowding and add 1,100 local jobs to the economy.

Christina Mulka, a spokeswoman for Durbin, said Illinois' senior senator Durbin has met with U.S. Bureau of Prisons Director Charles Samuels and hopes the budget will include money to open and run the prison.

"[We] certainly hope the president will include funding for the activation of the prison," Mulka said. "We're going to push for that funding to be used for Thomson."

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