The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved $43.7 million to be put towards staffing and equipment for the activation of Thomson Correctional Center, according to an announcement from Sen. Dick Durbin's (D-IL) office.
The appropriations bill, which still needs final approval from the full Senate, also contains $15 million for upgrades and repairs at the long-delayed prison.
Last week, U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL,17) spearheaded a bipartisan effort in the House to quash an amendment that would have prevented funds in an appropriations bill in the lower chamber from being used for the correctional facility, according to Durbin's office.
“The funding for Thomson Prison approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee today is more good news for our state, and will help relieve overcrowding in our prison system and create good-paying jobs,” Durbin said. “I commend Representative Bustos for her leadership in the House last week to protect funding for the prison. We have made real progress in moving this project forward, I will continue working with Representative Bustos and the entire Illinois Delegation to see it through.”
The 146-acre, 1,600-bed prison on the north edge of Thomson in Carroll County cost the state of Illinois $129 million to construct in 2001, and budget crunches prevented it from fully opening. The U.S. government agreed to purchase Thomson from the state back in 2012 for use as a maximum-security federal prison to alleviate overcrowding in the federal prison system.
In March, the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Prisons designated $53.7 million in funding for the activation of the correctional center. Congress approved those funds in January as part of the Omnibus Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2014. Of that pot of money, $10 million will be set aside for the renovation of the facility, while the remaining $43.7 million will be used for staffing and equipment purchases.
Thomson's complete activation is expected to take two years. The effort is projected to cost $25 million for upgrades and renovations as well as about $170 million for equipment and staffing.