U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says progress is being made on activating the federal prison in Thomson. Durbin, along with U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-East Moline), wrote a letter to President Obama urging him to include funds for the prison in his next budget proposal, which should be released on Tuesday. The federal government bought the unused facility from the state in October of 2012, and Durbin hoped it would’ve been operational by now.

 

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“From the beginning, I wanted this opened as quickly as possible, but we ran into some problems,” Durbin said. “Not of our own creation. A lot of them had to do with the stalemate and the breakdown in Washington.”

Fully activating the prison is expected to take three years. Durbin says funds for the first year of that process are already available.

The total cost of opening the prison, which was built as a state facility in 2001 but was deemed too costly to operate, is estimated to be $195 million for construction, equipment upgrades, and hiring staff.

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