- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 5, 2016

THOMSON, Ill. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said a western Illinois federal prison will be fully operational starting late next year.

Durbin visited Thomson Administrative U.S. Penitentiary on Tuesday. He said progress is moving forward on the facility but that much work remains to be done.

As a federal maximum-security prison, Thomson is expected to house up to 2,800 federal inmates from around the country and create about 100 more 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,” said the senator.

Durbin announced in 2012 that the federal Bureau of Prisons would buy Thomson Prison from Illinois for $165 million. The state built it in 2001 but never had enough funds budgeted to finish the project.

About 125 minimum-security inmates have been housed at an adjacent prison camp during construction.

The senator said the nature of the prison might change after the system of incarceration is re-evaluated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He also said that $14 million has been invested in the facility’s extensive renovations and will be fully operational by late 2017.

“The good news is this: We’re moving forward on schedule,” he said. “Thomson is expecting a soft target date of receiving prisoners and inmates at the end of next year. In the meantime, there’s a lot of work to be done.”

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