The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Local News

November 15, 2009

UPDATE: Officials to visit Thomson prison Monday

ROCKFORD, Ill. - Federal officials will visit Thomson Correctional Center on Monday to determine if it is fit to hold terror detainees being transferred from Guantanamo Bay.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, Thomson, Ill., Village President Jerry "Duke" Hebeler and several state lawmakers held a press conference at the Quad-City International Airport on Sunday to make the announcement.

Both Durbin, D-Ill., and Quinn dismissed any security concerns about retaining fewer than 100 Guantanamo transfers in the Carroll County town located about 12 miles north of Clinton on the other side of the Mississippi River.

Quinn called the plan an “opportunity of a lifetime” and Durbin said the measure could bring in more than 3,000 jobs and potentially inject more than $1 billion into the local economy over the first four years of operation.

Hebeler said he would never chase jobs if he thought it would jeopardize the security of his neighbors.

How long before officials decide if Thomson will be selected is unclear but Quinn said he expected a decision within a reasonable amount of time.

If named, the federal Bureau of Prisons would purchase the facility and it would house other federal inmates. The part housing the Guantanamo Bay prisoners would be leased to the Defense Department, Durbin said.

Illinois built the 1,600-cell prison in 2001 for a cost of $140 million. It was never fully opened because of state budget problems. About 200 minimum-security inmates are housed there.

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