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Officials to inspect Ill. jail today for Gitmo inmates
Associated Press

An undated photo of the Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson. A White House official says the Obama administration is considering buying the northwestern Illinois prison to house a limited number of detainees from Guantanamo Bay.

 

Associated Press

An undated photo of the Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson.

 

Associated Press

An undated photo of the Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson.

 

Associated Press

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Published: 11/16/2009 7:50 AM | Updated: 11/16/2009 1:46 PM

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THOMSON -- Federal officials are at a prison in northwest Illinois that the government might buy to house Guantanamo Bay detainees.

An Obama administration official says the federal agencies in Carroll County to inspect the Thomson Correctional Center on Monday include the Bureau of Prisons, Homeland Security and the Departments of Defense and Justice.

The officials will get an afternoon tour of the facility and meet with local and state officials.

The federal government is considering buying the Illinois prison to turn it into a federal prison that also would hold the Guantanamo Bay detainees.

That proposal has generated criticism from some, including Republican lawmakers, who raise safety concerns.

Thomson was built in 2001, but the prison has been largely vacant since then because of budget problems.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says criticisms of the Thomson proposal is pure political strategy and fear mongering

Durbin's comments Monday come as several Republican leaders, including U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, cite safety concerns with housing suspected terrorists in western Illinois.

Durbin says if the federal government buys the Thomson Correctional Center, it will become even more secure than its current maximum security status. He says that includes building another perimeter fence around the facility in rural Carroll County.

Durbin and Gov. Pat Quinn are defending the proposal, saying it would be a life line to the economically depressed area.

Quinn declined to say how much the prison, built in 2001, would sell for, citing the need for appraisal.