Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Durbin, Quinn Praise Administration Decision to Purchase Thomson Correctional Center

From the Office of U.S. Senator Dick Durbin

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn today praised the decision by the Obama Administration to proceed with the acquisition of a state of the art correctional facility in Thomson, Illinois.

“Thomson Correctional Center – a high security prison – has been sitting empty for eight years. The Obama Administration has put forward a plan to make it the safest prison in America and we are pleased that they have made this decision. This move will have a tremendously positive impact on the local economy -- creating more than 3,000 jobs and injecting more than $1 billion into the local economy. This is an opportunity to dramatically reduce unemployment, create thousands of good-paying jobs and breathe new economic life into this part of downstate Illinois.”

In a letter to Governor Quinn, sent by the U.S. Attorney General, the Director of National Intelligence and the Secretaries of State, Defense and Homeland Security, the federal government has signaled its intention to purchase and operate the prison.

They write: “We write to inform you that the President has directed, with our unanimous support, that the Federal Government proceed with the acquisition of the facility in Thomson. Not only will this help address the urgent overcrowding problem at our nation’s Federal prisons, but it will also help achieve our goal of closing the detention center at Guantanamo in a timely, secure, and lawful manner.”

The letter also addresses security concerns that have been raised about transferring Guantanamo detainees to the Thomson facility: “The security of the facility and the surrounding region is our paramount concern. The facility was built in 2001 to maximum security specifications, and after acquisition it will be enhanced to exceed perimeter security standards at the nation’s only “supermax” prison in Florence, Colorado, where there has never been an escape or external attack . . . The President has no intention of releasing any detainees in the United States. Current law effectively bars the release of the Guantanamo detainees on U.S. soil, and the Federal Government has broad authority under current law to detain individuals during removal proceedings and pending the execution of final removal orders.”

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