Originally Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2013, 8:15 pm
Last Updated: Jan. 31, 2013, 8:21 pm

Durbin says Obama's budget will include money to rehab, operate Thomson prison

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By Eric Timmons, etimmons@qconline.com

Opening the Thomson Correctional Center as a federal prison is expected to be in President Barack Obama's budget request scheduled for release in coming weeks.

Last year the federal government bought the vacant prison from Illinois for $165 million. An estimated $62 million is needed to activate the prison -- $25 million in construction to bring the prison up to federal standards and $37 million for the first six months of operational costs.

Once operational, the prison is projected to have around 1,100 federal workers.

On Thursday, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, discussed the plan to open the prison Charles Samuels, director of the Department of Justice's Bureau of Prisons.

"Now that the acquisition of Thomson prison is complete, the Department of Justice has begun preparing for its activation and Director Samuels assured us that process is moving forward," said a statement from Sen. Durbin. "When President Obama releases his budget in the next few weeks, it should include funding for prison activation."

Leading Congressional Republicans opposed the federal purchase of the prison that was earmarked three years ago as a possible site for detainees at Guantanamo Bay.The Guantanamo plan was canceled, but opposition to the federal purchase of the remained until the deal was pushed through in October.

Rep. Bustos said she was pleased to hear from Mr. Samuels that progress was being made on opening the prison.

"Thomson prison represents an economic shot in the arm to our region, and I look forward to working with Sen. Durbin over the coming months to make sure this job-creating facility continues to be on track for opening," she said.