THOMSON -- The Thomson Correctional Center is finally unlocking its doors after sitting empty for years. It will now be used to house federal prisoners. The state facility is located in northwestern Illinois. WCIA-3's Brittany Harris has more on the prison's history.
The state's been trying to sell it to the federal government for nearly three years. While this deal is a huge victory, some still have a few concerns about who might be moving in.
"If Gitmo is closed down, would those terrorists be transferred to the Thomson Center right here in the heart of Illinois and close to Chicago?"
It's the only concern Senator Larry Bomke (R) has when it comes to moving federal prisoners into the maximum security prison.
"Just want to make absolutely certain that we don't have terrorists coming to the state of Illinois, making it a potential terrorists' target."
But, state and federal leaders say that won't happen. They've even signed legislation preventing it. U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D) addressed the issue during a press conference.
"If there were going to be Guantanamo detainees, they would have to be put in a military prison. This is not a military prison."
Thomson was just bought for $165-million. Money from the sale will go toward unpaid bills. But, Bomke says it probably won't make a big difference.
"There's no question with an $800-billion deficit, the $165-million will help. Not a lot, but it will help."
Reopening the site is also expected to create about 1,100 jobs. It's something Governor Quinn hopes will revive the local economy.
"The investment by the federal government in this maximum security prison right here, will help create a lot of economic opportunity in northwestern Illinois and also across the river in Iowa."
Had Thomson continued to sit empty, it would have cost the state more than $800,000/year. Other details about how the prison will be altered to accommodate new inmates and when it will reopen are still unclear.
Original: 1:33 pm
THOMSON -- Tuesday, Governor Pat Quinn and Senator Dick Durbin announced the Obama administration and the Federal Bureau of Prisons is purchasing the Thomson Correctional Center. The state-of-the-art maximum security facility will house federal criminal offenders. More than 1,100 jobs are expected to be created once the prison is fully operational.
The Department of Justice filed paperwork in Rockford's federal courthouse finalizing the $165-million transfer to the federal Bureau of Prisons. Senator Durbin says he spoke directly to the President after a standoff in the House.
The prison cost $128.8-million when it was built in 2001 on 146-acre site. The bulk of the facility was never occupied and currently remains vacant.
It's equipped with 1,600 beds in eight compartmentalized units. It's designed for maximum inmate supervision. It's expected to generate more than $122-million in operating expenditures, including salaries, $19-million in labor income and $61-million in local business sales.