THOMSON – The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Prisons has removed a big hurdle to opening the Thomson Correctional Center.
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and 17th District Congresswoman Cheri Bustos announced Thursday that the Bureau of Prisons has committed $53.7 million in funding to the activation of the empty Carroll County prison built in 2001. The funding was approved by Congress in January as part of the Omnibus Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2014.
Of the funding, $10 million is designated for renovation, and $43.7 million will be used for staffing and equipment purchases and upgrades. The full activation of the facility is expected to take 2 years at a cost of $25 million for upgrades and renovations and approximately $170 million for equipment and staffing.
“This is the news we’ve been waiting for,” Durbin said in a news release. “The funding that the Bureau of Prisons reported to Congress today is a significant investment in the economic future of Northern Illinois.”
Although no exact time frame was given for the opening, the federal agency’s action is confirmation that it will happen soon, Bustos said.
“This investment by the Bureau of Prisons in Thomson prison means that construction can soon begin, workers can soon compete for good-paying jobs, and Northern Illinois will no longer be home to an empty prison,” the East Moline Democrat said.
Last month, Durbin and Bustos sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to include the necessary funding for the second year of activation of the Thomson Correction Center in his fiscal year 2015 budget request.
In November 2013, Charles Samuels, the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, reiterated his intention to fully activate the facility. Citing overcrowding at high-security Bureau of Prisons facilities that ultimately put staff, inmates and communities at risk, Samuels said the agency desperately needed the beds at Thomson to alleviate the problem.
In July 2013, the Senate Appropriations Committee, of which Durbin is a member, approved funding for the activation of the Thomson correctional facility. Obama’s plan included $166.3 million to open Thomson prison and two other facilities, acquire 1,000 private contract beds, and to expand a program to reduce recidivism rates.
The federal government, on Oct. 2, 2012, announced that the federal government had bought the prison for use as a maximum-security federal prison to alleviate overcrowding.
When Thomson prison is fully operational, it is expected to create more than 1,100 jobs. Annually, it is expected to generate more than $122 million in operating expenditures, including salaries, $19 million in wages, and $61 million in local business sales.