White House considers sending Guantanamo Bay prisoners to Illinois

Monday, November 16, 2009

Location of Thomson in Illinois

The White House has announced that it is considering sending Guantanamo Bay detainees to a state prison in northwestern Illinois.

Governor Pat Quinn and President Barack Obama discussed a federal purchase of the Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson during Quinn's visit to Washington on November 4. The purchase would bring a desperately needed $200 million to the state government. Senator Dick Durbin said in a statement last Saturday that the purchase would also bring fewer than 100 Guantanamo detainees to the prison and create 3,000 new jobs in the local economy.

Republican opposition has already begun. Representative Mark Kirk warned in a letter to the President, "As home to America's tallest building, we should not invite Al Qaeda to make Illinois its number one target." Representative Don Manzullo, whose district includes Thomson, has stated that he is "fighting efforts to bring these terrorists onto our shores ... where they could one day be released into our communities."

Built in 2001, the Thomson prison is the newest maximum-security prison in Illinois. However, it currently does not hold any maximum-security inmates but has 200 minimum-security inmates.