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Durbin, Bustos urge funding for prison

Published: Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT
(SVM file photo)
U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, talks during a briefing in Thomson in September. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (center) and Bustos sent President Obama a letter Thursday asking him to continue funding efforts to activate the Thomson Correctional Center.

SPRINGFIELD – Two members of Illinois congressional delegation are asking President Barack Obama to continue funding efforts to activate the Thomson Correctional Center.

Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, sent the letter Thursday. It reports that the first year of activation funding is available and urges Obama to include the second year in the budget plan expected to be released next week.

Click here to see the letter to President Obama.

Bustos serves the 17th congressional district, which includes Whiteside and Carroll counties.

The Democrats write that the Bureau of Prisons estimates that getting the prison ready to operate will cost $25 million for construction and related upgrades and $170 million for staffing and equipment.

The full activation of Thomson prison is expected to take 3 years at a cost of $25 million for upgrades and renovations, and approximately $170 million for equipment and staffing.  

The state built the 1,600-cell, maximum-security prison in 2001, 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.

As recently as November, Charles Samuels, the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, repeated his intention to make the Thomson facility fully operational. Citing overcrowding at high-security facilities, Samuels said the agency desperately needs the beds at Thomson.

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