THOMSON, Ill. — After a tour of the Administrative United States Penitentiary (AUSP) Thomson in Illinois earlier this month, Senator Dick Durbin held a press conference to update the media and public about its progress. The project is expected to be complete by the end of 2017.
Formerly Thomson Correctional Center, AUSP Thomson is a maximum-security prison that sits on about 146 acres and comprises 15 buildings. Its eight cell houses have a rated capacity of 2,100 beds — 1,900 high-security beds and 200 minimum-security beds.
The state built the prison in 2001 but never had enough funding to finish the project, according to the Associated Press. Since then, the facility has been underused and never housed more than 200 minimum-security inmates, reported KWQC, a local news station. Inmates were removed entirely from the prison in 2010, and the federal government purchased the facility in 2012 for $165 million. Upgrades have been underway for the past two years. During that time, more than 100 minimum-security inmates have been housed and work at a satellite camp adjacent to the prison.
In December 2015, President Obama signed off on the Omnibus funding package to reopen the prison and provide the roughly $83 million in capital and operating costs needed to make it fully operational. The Associated Press reported that the new facility is expected to house up to 2,800 inmates from around the country and create about 100 jobs.
“I’m so happy to report that out of the 214 current employees at this facility, paid employees and salaried employees, with a payroll income of about $22 million a year, that over half of them are from the local area,” Durbin said at the press conference.