Durbin talks Thomson prison in Washington

Discusses site during Senate committee meeting

WASHINGTON – Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., spoke about the Thomson prison during a Senate committee meeting Wednesday.

“The opening of Thomson prison is going to create good-paying jobs for people living in Iowa and my home state of Illinois,” Durbin said. “It is going to lessen the overcrowding in the prison system and provide critical beds that are necessary for the protection of the men and women who work so hard for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.”

Charles Samuels, director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, told the committee that his agency is “looking forward to be able to fully activate the Thomson facility,” which is in Carroll County along the Mississippi River. 

He said the bureau desperately needs the prison beds because of overcrowding at high-security facilities. 

The state built the 1,600-cell, maximum-security prison a decade ago, then decided it couldn’t afford to run it. It had been looking for a buyer for years. The federal government bought it last fall.

The prison is expected to bring 1,100 jobs and $200 million in annual economic impact to the area.

The full activation of Thomson prison is expected to take 2 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.