Feds to buy Thomson Correctional Center

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The Federal Bureau of Prisons will purchase the vacant Thomson Correctional Center to house federal inmates. 

Paperwork to finalize the $165-million purchase was filed Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at the federal courthouse in Rockford, Illinois according to U.S. Senator Dick Durbin. 

"This historic action will lead to the creation of hundreds of construction jobs and over 1,000 permanent jobs at this federal facility," Durbin said.

Durbin credited mayor Jerry Hebeler and the people of Thomson for their patience as they waited more than a decade for word that the facility will be fully-operational.  The maximum-security prison was built in 2001 but it has not been used. 

The prison cost $128.8 million to build.  Durbin said it costs more than $800,000 a year for the building to sit empty and $60-million to operate it at full capacity. 

"Annual operation is expected to generate more than $122-million in operating expenditures (including salaries), $19-million in labor income and $61-million in local business sales," Durbin's staffers said.

Sen. Durbin emphasized no Guantanamo Bay detainees would be housed at the Thomson facility. 

Construction will still be necessary to make the facility meet today's standards for federal prisons.  Because that funding must still be appropriated, no timetable was offered for the possible opening date for the prison. 

Following the news conference, Congressman Dave Loebsack issued a statement about the federal purchase of the Thomson facility.

“Iowans and Illinoisans have waited years for a solution on the Thomson Correctional Center, and I am pleased that the Administration has decided to move forward with the purchase.  For too long, politics in Washington got in the way of creating jobs in our region.  It’s that type of partisan game that must end.  This development will bring more than 1,000 new jobs at a time when families badly need them and will spur economic development in our region," Loebsack said.  “This is something that my colleague Bobby Schilling and I have long been pushing for, and it is good news that after years of political bickering the sale of the facility will at long last go through.”