Posted Online: Feb. 08, 2013, 6:19 pm
Lack of funds stalls Thomson prison startup
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By Eric Timmons, firstname.lastname@example.org
It remains unclear when Thomson Correctional Center will open as a federal prison, with money needed for construction upgrades unlikely to become available until October.
Purchased by the federal government for $165 million last year after sitting largely vacant for the past decade, the prison awaits another $67 million in activation funding before it can open
Bureau of Prisons activation coordinator Cathi Litcher gave Thomson's village board an update on the prison progress at a meeting on Monday.
"There is no activation or operational funding identified in the Congressional fiscal year budget for 2013 in support of the opening of the Thomson facility by the federal Bureau of Prisons," an emailed statement to village board members said.
"Also, the agency isn't aware of the final funding situation for Thomson during fiscal year 2014. Until the federal budget is passed, for either year, the BOP isn't aware of the funding levels in support of the activation or operation of the Thomson institution," the statement said.
The prison is expected to create 1,100 federal jobs when fully operational. So far, two maintenance positions have been filled, Thomson village board member Linda Foltz said.
U.S. Sen Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said the expected inclusion of money in President Obama's budget request for the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1 should allow construction upgrades to be completed.
"Even with the spending cuts we are facing in Washington over the next six to eight months, they are making progress at the facility," a statement from Sen. Durbin said. "The next step is for the President to include funding for activation of Thomson prison in his budget for 2014, which will allow the Bureau of Prisons to move forward with upgrades and construction."
Workshops will be held in the coming months to help area businesses compete for federal government contracts connected to the prison.
The prison was built in 2001 but funding problems kept the state from fully opening it. Federal officials bought the 1,600-cell facility last October to ease overcrowding in the federal system.