Thomson prison, located in northwestern Illinois, will be completely activated by the end of 2019, with up to 600 employees, a Bureau of Prisons official assured Illinois lawmakers Wednesday.
The prison will open as a high-security institution and will include some specialized units, BOP Acting Director Hugh Hurwitz said in a news release from Sen. Dick Durbin, Sen. Tammy Duckworth and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos.
Durbin, Bustos and members of Duckworth’s staff met with Hurwitz to discuss the continued activation of the prison, which “will alleviate overcrowding in the federal prison system and promote economic growth in the region,” Durbin said in the release.
This is the first time the BOP has provided a stated mission for the Thomson prison, which had been a roadblock to funding.
“This has been the biggest challenge with Thomson, and it’s been an ongoing issue for several years,” Bustos spokesperson Jared Smith said.
The prison’s mission calls for splitting operations between high-security and specialized units, such as those that handle seriously ill, geriatric or mentally ill inmates.
The BOP’s latest estimate of up to 600 workers is down considerably from the government’s earlier projections of up to 1,100.
A fully activated Thomson prison would reduce overcrowding at federal high-security facilities from 25 percent to 19 percent, the Bureau of Prisons has said.
The state finished building the prison in 2001, but it sat empty for more than a decade because Illinois didn’t budget enough money to open it. In 2012, it was announced that the Bureau of Prisons would buy the facility for $165 million.
Thomson is located along the Mississippi River in Carroll County.