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Neighbors express concerns with Thomson facility

THOMSON – Neighbors are reacting to news of Thomson’s Correctional Center finally opening up.

Crews built the facility back in 2001, but for the most part, it has sat vacant ever since because Illinois did not have the money to pay employees. Eleven years later, along with two checks from the Department of Justice, the state has finally sold the prison, so it can actually be used.

“I don’t like the thought of having a prisoner live in my backdoor,” Thomson resident Janet St. Ores said. “Are they going to keep their promise at Guantanamo Bay that they aren’t coming? They don’t keep other promises.”

Three years ago, President Obama’s administration expressed interest in housing Guantanamo Bay prisoners at this facility. Republicans quickly reacted to that statement, holding up any opening of the prison. St. Ores is one of many people in town who does not want Guantanamo Bay prisoners coming to Thomson.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said prisoners from Guantanamo Bay will not be housed in this facility. The facility will be used to house “federal criminal offenders” instead. That is comforting to some, but St. Ores is still skeptical.

“How do we know?” St. Ores siad. “How can we be thoroughly convinced that the politicians are telling us the truth? When I see it, I’ll believe it.”

St. Ores says that others may think about moving because prisoners will finally be coming. She says many people were against the building of the facility back in 2001.

“None of the residents like it,” St. Ores said of the facility. “Some have already moved when it was announced and built.”

The job creation number is comforting though to many others. The facility is supposed to house 1,100 jobs once it’s fully operational.

“The investment coming from the federal government will probably be a couple hundred million dollars a year,” Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said. “That will be invested in this facility.”

Durbin also said that he has waited for this day for three years. Democrats are claiming a big win by finally getting the prison to open up. There is no word on when it will officially open though.

Illinois Congressman Bobby Schilling was also not invited to the event until an hour and a half before the press conference. He was in attendance though and in full support of the prison sale. This announcement comes about a month before the general election, and many are calling this a political stunt. To see our story on Tuesday’s original announcement, click here.

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