The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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August 27, 2012

READER'S LETTER: Find a solution for Thomson prison

CLINTON — Maybe the rest of the nation is also tired of politics as usual...Illinois style.

Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va. continues to block the sale of Thomson and now several other senators and representatives from other states have joined him with additional reasons for not funding Thomson. Wolf thinks Obama is pulling the wool over our eyes and still will bring Gitmo prisoners to Illinois.

The other senators and representatives cite the four new federal prisons already built, but not opened. They are located in Yazoo City, Miss., Berlin, N.H., Aliceville, Ala. and Hazelton, W.V. The Associated Press, in a study trying to determine the cost of private prison companies over a 10-year period, found three private companies, Corrections Corporation of America, The GEO Group, and Management and Training Corporation. CCA was on the verge of bankruptcy in 2000 according to the AP study.

Loss of contracts, management problems and lawsuits were cited. In 2011 CCA earned $162 million in net income with 43 percent of that income coming from the federal government. GEO net income rose from $16.9 million to $78.6 million. These three companies have spent at least $45 million on campaign donations and lobbyists on both state and federal levels. (My light bulb just came on.) Here’s my thoughts using a little common sense. (We all know how far that seems to go in politics).

Opening Thomson as an Illinois Department of Corrections facility we could...1. Create 600 real jobs with real pay checks in the local economy; 2. Illinois could house federal prisoners and state prisoners, relieving over-crowding; 3. Create jobs for returning vets; 4. Save the federal government $165 million; 5. Actually show bi-partisan cooperation.

Incentives — Jo Carroll Energy could offer an incentive on electric and gas rates if Illinois would pay the bill on time. Failure to pay on time sends them back to regular rate. I think the design of Thomson compared to most Illinois prisons will show the lowest energy usage in the state.

That could become even more efficient if an Iowa Wind Generator were installed. Did you know the federal government requires a bachelor in criminal justice, not over 37 years old and mandatory retirement at 57? Illinois requires a high school diploma.

Federal has over 20,000 applications on file. How can we lobby so the little guy (like Thomson, Ill.) can grow?

Kirk Wellman,

Fenton, Ill.

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With the Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission and the Clinton County Board of Supervisors discussing proposals to construct a new jail, do you think the time has come for Clinton County to construct such a facility?

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