State prison now in federal hands - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

State prison now in federal hands

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According to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, money that the state still owes to create an under-used, vacant prison will be paid for with funds brought in from selling that same prison.

More than a year has come and gone since the government agreed to buy Thomson Correctional Center for $165 million. Tuesday, that sale was made. When the deal was announced Governor Quinn had a plan for this new revenue.

"That's money that's going to come to the people of Illinois to help pay our bills, we have bills to pay, we all know that."

But now he's saying it'll pay off bond debt used to build the facility, and what's left over will go to unpaid bills. What still holds true is the federal government's new purchase means more than 1,000 jobs created in Thomson.

"It's going to help the businesses in town here and all around. People are going to be buying homes and cars and putting the breath of life back into the economy." -says Illinois' Democratic U.S. Senator Dick Durbin.

According to Sen. Durbin, work needs to be done to bring the facility up to federal standards before the prison can open again.

"The funds for construction will be in the next year's appropriation bill, and then the ordinary operations of the prison will be in the whole Federal Bureau of Prisons system."

Republican U.S. Representative Frank Wolf of Virginia, the head of a Congressional committee that oversees sales like this, doesn't approve. His committee never did. He calls this a way to circumvent congress. State leader from both parties back the deal. Illinois' Republican U.S. Senator Mark Kirk believes Thomson's facility will help crowding issues in other maximum security prisons across the nation. He endorses it as long as no terror suspects are moved there.

According to Durbin, terror suspects cannot be placed in that prison for three reasons. The first, there's a law stating they cannot be put there. Two, if those suspects are housed anywhere, it's in military prison, which Thomson is not. Thirdly, in June U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder testified under oath in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Holder said the Obama administration will never transfer terror suspects to the Thomson prison.

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