Thomson Correctional Center

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Administrative United States Penitentiary, Thomson (AUSP Thomson), formerly Thomson Correctional Center, is a maximum security Federal prison located in Thomson, Illinois. It has an area of about 146 acres (59 ha) and comprises 15 buildings. The facility is enclosed by a 15-foot (4.6 m), 7000 volt electric fence surrounded by an additional 12-foot (3.7 m) exterior fence covered with razor wire. Thomson has eight cellhouses with a rated capacity of 2,100 beds—1,900 high-security SMU beds and 200 minimum-security beds at the onsite camp—and according to BOP officials, the potential to use some of its high-security rated capacity to house up to 400 ADX inmates. [1] However, from its completion in 2001 to 2006, it sat empty. [2] By 2009, only the minimum-security section houses prisoners. [3] [4]

A federal prison is operated under the jurisdiction of a federal government as opposed to a state or provincial body. Federal prisons are used for convicts who violated federal law, inmates considered dangerous (Brazil), or those sentenced to longer terms of imprisonment (Canada). Not all federated countries have a legal concept of "federal prison".

Thomson, Illinois Village in Illinois, United States

Thomson is a village along Illinois Route 84 near the Mississippi River in Carroll County, Illinois, United States. The population was 590 at the 2010 census, up from 559 at the 2000 census. Just north of the village is the Thomson Correctional Center, a mostly-unused former state prison, purchased by the Federal Bureau of Prisons in 2012. Currently AUSP Thomson houses over 100 low- security inmates as it remodels to federal maximum-security standards.

Electric fence shock barrier to contain animals or people

An electric fence is a barrier that uses electric shocks to deter animals and people from crossing a boundary. The voltage of the shock may have effects ranging from discomfort to death. Most electric fences are used today for agricultural fencing and other forms of animal control, although they are frequently used to enhance the security of sensitive areas, such as military installations, prisons, and other security sensitive places; places exist where lethal voltages are used.


In October 2012, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) purchased Thomson Correctional Center (TCC) from the State of Illinois for $165 million. Plans to transfer inmates from Guantanamo Bay to the facility had already been blocked by Congress.

In August 2014, Donald Hudson was named the first warden of the prison. [5] As of 2016, Thompson Correctional Center holds 117 inmates and employs around 250 correctional officers. Both numbers are expected to rise in coming years as planned activation of the facility ongoing. [6] [7]


The building of the prison was controversial; early plans suggested using the site of the former Savanna Army Depot, several miles north of Thomson. One of the main reasons the prison was controversial was concern[ who? ] that the prison would have a negative impact on the environment, especially being so close to the Mississippi River. [8]

Savanna Army Depot

Savanna Army Depot was a 13,062-acre (52.86 km2) installation, located on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River, in Carroll and Jo Daviess counties, around seven miles (11 km) north of Savanna, Illinois. It was opened in 1917 as a proving and testing facility for weapons developed at Rock Island Arsenal. In 1921 it became a weapons depot. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) listed the depot as a Superfund site in 1989. The depot was selected for closure through the Base Realignment and Closure process in July 1995 and was officially closed on March 18, 2000. The Jo-Carroll Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA) was established to redevelop a portion of the property for commercial and business usage referred to as the Savanna Depot Park. On September 26, 2003, the United States Department of Defense agreed to transfer 9,404 acres (38.06 km2) of land to become the Lost Mound Unit of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. 3,022 acres (12.23 km2) were initially transferred with the rest to be transferred following environmental cleanup. The portion near Lock and Dam No. 12 was transferred to the United States Army Corps of Engineers and a small part to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Mississippi River largest river system in North America

The Mississippi River is the second-longest river and chief river of the second-largest drainage system on the North American continent, second only to the Hudson Bay drainage system. Its source is Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota and it flows generally south for 2,320 miles (3,730 km) to the Mississippi River Delta in the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains all or parts of 32 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces between the Rocky and Appalachian mountains. The main stem is entirely within the United States; the total drainage basin is 1,151,000 sq mi (2,980,000 km2), of which only about one percent is in Canada. The Mississippi ranks as the fourth-longest and fifteenth-largest river by discharge in the world. The river either borders or passes through the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

Thomson Correctional Center was built between May 1999 and November 2001. Its completion cost $140 million, but the state omitted opening costs from the 2002 budget, and Governor George H. Ryan called for a delay to the opening to save $50 million per year in operating costs. [9] By 2009, the total cost to the state of Illinois had exceeded $170 million. [10] The minimum security unit has an annual budget of $7 million. [11] State budget constraints as well as labor union opposition to closing other state prisons prevented the maximum-security prison from opening. [11]

In 2008, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich proposed to close the state prison in Pontiac and to open the Thomson maximum-security unit instead. However, Blagojevich was subsequently arrested on December 9, 2008, and was removed from office. His replacement, Governor Pat Quinn, cancelled plans to close the Pontiac prison in March 2009, leaving Thomson unused. [11]

Rod Blagojevich Former Governor of Illinois

Rod Blagojevich is an American criminal who served as the 40th Governor of Illinois from 2003 until his impeachment, conviction, and removal from office in 2009.

Pontiac, Illinois City in Illinois, United States

Pontiac is a city in Livingston County, Illinois, United States. The population was 11,931 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Livingston County. The town is also the setting of the 1984 movie Grandview, U.S.A.

Pat Quinn (politician) American politician: 41st Governor of Illinois

Patrick Joseph Quinn Jr. is an American lawyer and politician who served as the 41st Governor of Illinois, from 2009 to 2015. A Democrat, Quinn began his career as an activist by founding the Coalition for Political Honesty. He is currently working on Take Charge Chicago, a petition for referendums to limit the Mayor of Chicago to two four-year terms and create an elected Consumer Advocate in the city.

Transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees

On December 15, 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama, via a Presidential memorandum, formally ordered the departments of Justice and Defense to arrange federal ownership of the prison, and prepare for transfer there of both federal prisoners and Guantanamo detainees. [12] According to previous press reports, the acquisition plan contemplated housing up to 100 inmates from the camp, in addition to other federal prisoners. [13] The Federal Bureau of Prisons would erect a more secure perimeter fence, so its perimeter security exceeded supermax standards. [14] The portion of the Thomson prison that would be used to house Guantanamo detainees would be operated by the Department of Defense, while the rest of the prison would be operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. [15] [16] [17]

CNN stated that before the decision was announced, many in the town had welcomed the idea of Guantanamo prisoners being housed in their town, in hopes it would revitalize the local economy and bring jobs. [11] [13] However, funding for detainee transfers was blocked. [18]

Federal Bureau of Prisons Purchase

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin’s office announced on October 2, 2012, that the Obama administration and Federal Bureau of Prisons would buy the Thomson Correctional Center from the state of Illinois for $165 million. [19] [20] [21] An administration official said the deal was to address overcrowding issues, and Thomson would not be used to house any Guantanamo detainees, which the official noted was prohibited by law. "The entire facility will house only [Bureau of Prisons] inmates (up to 2,800) and be operated solely by BOP. Specifically, it will be used for administrative maximum security inmates and others who have proven difficult to manage in high-security institutions," said the official, who asked not to be named. [22] This statement was echoed in a letter from United States Attorney General Eric Holder. "I have committed that no Guantanamo detainees will be transferred to Thomson. As you know, any such transfer would violate express legal statutory prohibitions," Holder said in a letter to Representative Frank Wolf, who fought the proposal. [18]

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois said the move would create 1,000 jobs in the area of Thomson. [18] Federal officials have said that building a new prison instead of buying Thomson would take years and cost about $400 million. [20] State officials estimated that annual operation of the facility would generate more than $122 million in operating expenditures, including salaries and $61 million in local business sales. [20]

The facility is scheduled to be in full operation by December 2019. [23]

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  2. Mounce, Kyle (2006-09-06). "Doors Open at Thomson Prison". WHBF-TV . Rock Island, Illinois. Retrieved 2009-12-15.
  3. "Thomson Correctional Center". Springfield, Illinois: Illinois Department of Corrections . Retrieved 2009-12-15.
  4. Gillam, Carey (2009-11-15). "Illinois prison eyed to house Guantanamo detainees (update 1)". Reuters. Retrieved 2009-12-15.
  5. Becker, Tara. "Warden named at Thomson prison". The Quad-City Times. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
  6. "AUSP Thomson". Retrieved 2016-06-14.
  7. J, Jennifer; a (2016-05-18). "Lawmakers discuss Thomson Prison activation". KWQC-TV6. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
  9. "Thomson Prison Timeline". Quad-City Times . Davenport, Iowa. 2009-11-29. Retrieved 2009-12-15.
  10. Erickson, Kurt (2009-12-15). "No timetable yet for prison deal". Quad-City Times . Davenport, Iowa . Retrieved 2009-12-16.
  11. 1 2 3 4 Barrett, Joe (December 19, 2009). "Guantanamo Detainees Welcome Here". Wall Street Journal. p. A6.
  12. Presidential Memorandum--Closure of Dentention [sic on website] Facilities at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base
  13. 1 2 Fantz, Ashley (2009-12-15). "Many in Illinois town hope locating Gitmo detainees there helps business". . Retrieved 2009-12-15.
  14. Mackey, Robert (15 December 2009). "From Guantánamo to Beyond 'Supermax'". New York Times . Retrieved 2009-12-15.
  15. Savage, Charlie (16 November 2009). "Illinois Site May Be Path to Closing Guantánamo". New York Times . Retrieved 2009-12-15.
  16. Lothian, Dan; Jill Dougherty (15 December 2009). "Illinois to get some Gitmo detainees, official says". CNN. Retrieved 2009-12-15.
  17. Jackson, Henry C. (15 December 2009). "Ill. prison to get Gitmo detainees". AP. Archived from the original on December 16, 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-15.
  18. 1 2 3 Ingram, David (2 October 2012). "U.S. to buy prison once viewed as a Guantanamo successor". Reuters. The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
  19. Cratty, Carol (2 October 2012). "Obama administration proceeds with controversial prison purchase". CNN. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
  20. 1 2 3 Tareen, Sophia (2012-10-02). "Thomson Prison In Illinois To Be Purchased By Federal Government For $165 Million". Associated Press. The Huffington Post. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
  21. Straw, Joseph (2 October 2012). "Obama administration moves to purchase empty Illinois prison that was once at the center of Guantanamo military prison controversy". New York Daily News. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
  22. Kopan, Tal (2 October 2012). "Obama administration buying Illinois prison over Hill objections". The Politico. Retrieved 3 October 2012.

Coordinates: 41°58′20″N90°6′30″W / 41.97222°N 90.10833°W / 41.97222; -90.10833