Concerns over the sort of inmates that would be housed at Illinois’ Thomson Correctional Center have held up efforts by the federal government to purchase it from the state. As Brian Mackey reports, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder tried to calm those fears on Tuesday:
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The prison in Thomson, in northwest Illinois, has been a $140 million white elephant for state government — built but never fully opened.
A few years ago the Obama administration floated the idea of buying the prison. The plan was to use it to house inmates held at Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba.
That prompted a backlash from critics who say they don’t want high-level terrorism suspects in the US.
Although Congress passed a budget forbidding federal money from being used to transfer such inmates here — critics worry Obama could find a way around that.
Attorney General Holder tried to put that notion to rest before a Senate committee in Washington, heard here on C-SPAN:
HOLDER: “We will not move people from Guantanamo, regardless of the state of the law, to Thomson. That is my pledge as attorney general.”
The plan to buy Thomson has bipartisan support from local congressmen.
But the Republican chairman of the U.S. House committee that oversees the federal prison budget has yet to sign off — and that’s holding up the purchase.
I’m Brian Mackey.