THOMSON, Ill. (KWQC) — Illinois Senator Dick Durbin made a trip to the Thomson Prison to catch up with the warden and get an update on the prison’s construction project.
Durbin said he wanted a chance to look at the prison himself and personally get an update on when the doors will open.
After meeting with the warden, Durbin had a chance to tour the facility. Media was not allowed to tag along.
When the tour was over, Durbin held a press conference to fill everyone in on the project and the future of the Thomson Prison.
“I saw first hand, plus I wanted to hear right from the warden’s mouth what the plans were, what the targets were on actually bringing inmates to the prison,” said Durbin.
A firm start date has still not been set, but Durbin said the goal is to be finished by the end of 2017.
The prison was completed back in 2001, but never housed maximum security prisoners. Instead the prison sat empty until the Federal Government stepped in and purchased the facility in 2012.
“What started as a pretty sad situation with an empty prison with an investment from our state, that was not being used for more then a decade,” said Durbin.
The construction process has been underway for the past two years, bringing upgrades to modernize the facility.
“Starting with mold, going up to the new levels of communications, and computers, new power sources, new security fencing. The list goes on and on,” said Durbin.
After two years the prison still doesn’t hold maximum security inmates, but more then 100 minimum security prisoners are staying and working at a satellite camp next to the prison.
“We both believe that they are no danger to the community and they are anxious to be part of this project,” said Durbin.
The senator said the prison is providing jobs to the Thomson community and bringing revenue back to the area.
“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 dollars a year, that over half of them are from the local area,” said Durbin.
Durbin also mentioned he and the warden hope to find a way to offer counseling to prisoners with a mental health disorder in the future.