This week, the CPL Board will be receiving a tour of the newly purchased Thomson Prison in Illinois.
Thomson Correctional Center, located just north of Thomson, Illinois, was built to be an Illinois Department of Corrections maximum security prison. It has an area of about 146 acres and comprises 15 buildings. The facility is enclosed by a 15-foot, 7000 volt electric fence surrounded by an additional 12-foot exterior fence covered with razor wire. Thomson has eight cell-houses with 1,600 total cells, and an additional minimum-security unit with 200 beds. However, from its completion in 2001 to 2006, it sat empty and in 2009, only the minimum-security section houses prisoners. On April 30, 2010 Thomson closed entirely.
On October 2, 2012, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin’s office announced that the Obama administration and Federal Bureau of Prisons was buying the Thomson Correctional Center from the Illinois for $165 million. An administration official said the deal was to address overcrowding issues; “The entire facility will house only [Bureau of Prison] inmates (up to 2,800) and be operated solely by BOP. Specifically, it will be used for administrative maximum security inmates and others who have proven difficult to manage in high-security institutions.” Federal officials have said that building a new prison instead of buying Thomson would cost about $400 million and take years. State officials estimated that annual operation of the facility would generate more than $122 million in operating expenditures, including salaries and $61 million in local business sales.
After this week, I'll give a report on when the BOP plans on hiring staff in to work at Thomson and when the first inmates are expected to arrive.