Durbin, Bustos: Robust Funding for Prison Activation in Omnibus Appropriations Bill Is Good News for Thomson

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos (IL-17) today announced that the Omnibus Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2014, which was filed in the House and Senate earlier today, includes funding for the activation of the Thomson correctional facility in Thomson, Illinois.  The bill, which reflects a budget agreement between the House and Senate must now be voted on in both chambers and signed into law by President Obama. 


Though today’s bill does not detail how this funding will be spent, Durbin and Bustos expressed confidence that the funding for the Thomson facility’s activation remains a top priority for the Obama Administration.  As recently as November, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Charles Samuels, reiterated his intention to fully activate the Thomson facility.  Citing the challenges due to overcrowding at high-security Bureau of Prisons facilities that ultimately put staff, inmates and communities at risk, Samuels said the agency desperately needs the beds at Thomson to alleviate the problem. 


“Residents of Northern Illinois have been waiting too long for the job creation and economic activity that was promised when Thomson prison was built over a decade ago,” said Durbin.  “Once this legislation is passed by Congress and signed into law, Congresswoman Bustos and I will hold the Bureau of Prisons to their commitment to opening Thomson prison as soon as possible.”


“Thomson prison would not only help alleviate overcrowding in our nation’s prison system, but its opening will be an economic boon for our region of Illinois,” Congresswoman Cheri Bustos said.  “I’m encouraged that this bipartisan legislation will help fund the account that could spur the activation of Thomson Prison.  I’ll continue to work closely with Senator Durbin and the Federal Bureau of Prisons to ensure this job-creating facility remains on track to open.” 


The full activation of Thomson prison is expected to take two years at a cost of $25 million for upgrades and renovations and approximately $170 million for equipment and staffing. 


In July 2013, the Senate Appropriations Committee, of which Durbin is a member, approved funding for the activation of the Thomson correctional facility at the level that was requested by President Obama in his Fiscal Year 2014 budget proposal which was delivered to Congress last April. The President's plan included $166.3 million to begin the activation of Thomson prison and two other prisons, acquire 1,000 private contract beds and to expand a program to reduce recidivism rates. The federal government’s operation of Thomson is expected to provide a major boost to the local economy and create more than 1,100 jobs.