The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Local News

April 11, 2013

Push to open prison

CLINTON — President Barack Obama’s proposed budget includes funds for activating the long-vacant Thomson prison.

The budget, which was submitted to Congress on Wednesday, includes $166.3 million to begin the activation of Thomson prison and two other prisons, acquire 1,000 private contract beds and to expand a program to reduce recidivism rates.

If fully funded by Congress, the President’s budget would likely cover the entire cost of upgrades and renovations to the facility. The full activation of Thomson prison is expected to take two years at a cost of $25 million in fiscal year 2014 for upgrades and renovations and $168 million in fiscal year 2015 for equipment and staffing.

U.S. legislators reacted to the decision Wednesday, which is the first step in opening the facility as a federal supermax prison.

Congressman Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, called on fellow legislators to support the president’s proposed budget for the prison.

“It is time for Washington to get out of the way of needed economic development and job creation in the region. I call on Congress to approve the funding the President has proposed and will continue to work to open Thomson,” Loebsack said.

The prison was purchased by the federal government for $165 million in October despite objections from some Republican lawmakers.

Sen. Dick Durbin, who has been working with the Obama Administration and the state of Illinois on the purchase of Thomson prison since 2009 issued a statement with U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., regarding the funds for the prison.

“It’s very clear today that President Obama views the activation of Thomson prison as a high priority for America’s prison system,” Durbin said. “The Thomson prison will help reduce serious prison overcrowding, create over 1,100 jobs and bring millions of dollars in new economic activity to Illinois.”

Bustos, who sent a letter last week to Obama urging him to include activation funds for the Thomson prison in his fiscal year 2014 budget proposal, also applauded the budget proposal.

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