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Plan to Buy Illinois State Prison on Track

By Kamika Dunlap on May 27, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The White House is keeping its plan on track to buy an Illinois state prison to incarcerate prisoners, possibly including Gitmo Bay detainees.

President Barack Obama is forging ahead with the plan to buy Thomson Illinois state prison, and to upgrade and convert it to house federal inmates which may or may not include the Gitmo detainees, the Chicago Tribune reports.

To do it, it will cost $170 million for the purchase and $67 million for the necessary improvements.

But the U.S. House Armed Services Committee voted recently on a measure to require the President get permission from Congress before redesigning or building on the prison grounds any facility to house detainees like those now held in Guantanamo.

The White House says the House committee's vote won't impact money intended for the Justice Department to buy the prison.

As previously discussed, the move to bring Guantanamo detainees to Thomson Correctional Facility has polarized many local residents and state officials.

On one side, 450 residents of the small town of Thomson are mostly welcoming and say it would bring back jobs to the area.

On the other side, several Illinois lawmakers say placing detainees there would be too risky and make Chicago a target for terrorists.

However, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has agreed to sell the mostly unused maximum security prison but said it is "less likely" Gitmo detainees will go to Thomson.

Thomson Correctional Center was built by Illinois in 2001 as a state prison and sat empty for years, as previously discussed.

Selling the Illinois state prison would add much-needed capacity to the federal prison system, officials said.

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