Durbin Meets with Bureau of Prisons Director to Discuss Thomson Funding

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today met with the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, Harley Lappin, to urge him to identify funding for the acquisition of Thomson Correctional Center in Carroll County, Illinois, in order to open it as a federal maximum security prison. The FY2011 budget agreement that passed Congress late yesterday provided the Bureau with the funds necessary to operate for the remainder of the fiscal year.  


“Director Lappin assured me that the Bureau of Prisons and the State of Illinois are still working toward an agreement on the sale of the Thomson Correctional Center,” said Durbin. “I believe they are close to an agreement. I am hopeful that the Bureau of Prisons will be able to find the funds necessary to purchase the facility. We can’t miss this opportunity.


“Now that the Obama Administration has made clear that no prisoners from Guantanamo Bay will be housed at Thomson, the sale to the federal government enjoys broad bipartisan support. An empty facility creates a drain on our state’s already struggling finances. Opening Thomson as a maximum security facility will help Illinois balance its budget, create 1,100 jobs – more than 700 from the local community – and inject at least $1 billion into the region’s economy.”


Earlier this month in a letter Durbin, Attorney General Eric Holder clearly stated that the Obama Administration has no intention of transferring prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to Thomson Correctional Center, a move that is already prohibited by federal law. Holder’s letter was sent in response to a February letter that Durbin had sent to Holder outlining the bipartisan support for the purchase of Thomson prison and a March letter from Durbin and Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) which made clear that this support hinges on the guarantee that no prisoners from Guantanamo Bay will be transferred to the facility.


The State of Illinois and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Prisons are currently in negotiations over the purchase of Thomson Correctional Center for use as a federal maximum security prison. The Bureau of Prisons believes that the acquisition of Thomson will help alleviate serious federal prison overcrowding, currently running as high as 50 percent over rated capacity, and help increase the safety of the system’s prison guards.