Durbin: Senate Committee Approves Nearly $60 Million To Continue Activation of Thomson Prison

Applauds effort by Congresswoman Bustos to protect funding for Thomson in House version of the bill

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that the Senate Appropriations Committee, of which he is a member, approved $43.7 million for equipment and staffing to continue the activation of Thomson Prison. The Fiscal Year 2015 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill, which was passed on a bipartisan vote, also includes $15 million in funding for modernizations and repairs at the prison in Thomson, Illinois. Following the vote, Durbin commended the efforts of U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos (D-IL) who, last week, led a bipartisan effort on the House Floor to defeat an amendment that would have denied funds in a critical appropriations bill from being used for Thomson Prison.


“The funding for Thomson Prison approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee today is more good news for our state, and will help relieve overcrowding in our prison system and create good-paying jobs,” Durbin said. “I commend Representative Bustos for her leadership in the House last week to protect funding for the prison. We have made real progress in moving this project forward, I will continue working with Representative Bustos and the entire Illinois Delegation to see it through.”


“I’m thrilled that one week after the Illinois congressional delegation came together to defeat an attempt to rollback progress on opening Thomson prison that we’re now celebrating bipartisan action to move this job-creating facility another step closer to reality,” Bustos said. “Thomson prison will not only be an economic boon for our region of Illinois, but its opening has the potential to save lives of correction officers jeopardized by the current overcrowding in our nation’s prison system.”


In March 2014, Durbin and Bustos announced that the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Prisons has committed $53.7 million in funding to the activation of Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson, Illinois. The funding was approved by Congress in January as part of the Omnibus Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2014.  Of this funding, $10 million is designated for renovation while $43.7 million will be used for staffing and equipment purchases and upgrades. The full activation of Thomson prison is expected to cost $25 million for upgrades and renovations and approximately $170 million for equipment and staffing.


In February, Durbin and Bustos sent a letter to President Obama asking him to include the necessary funding for the second year of activation of the Thomson Correction Center in his Fiscal Year 2015 Budget request.


The Thomson facility was built in 2001 by the State of Illinois as a state-of-the-art, maximum-security prison to house the most serious criminal offenders. The bulk of the facility was never occupied, however, and is sitting vacant. The facility was constructed on a 146-acre piece of land and has 1,600 beds with eight compartmentalized units designed for maximum inmate supervision and control. The facility is enclosed by a 12-foot exterior fence and 15-foot interior fence, which includes a dual sided electric stun fence.