Thomson funding clears Senate committee

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved nearly $60 million for the activation of a federal prison in Thomson: $43.7 million for equipment and staffing, and $15 million for modernizations and repairs, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said in a news release.

The 2015 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill, which passed the House a week ago today, still must be approved by the full Senate. Durbin, a Democrat, is a member of the committee. GOP Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois also supports funding the prison.

The state built a 1,600-bed prison in 2001 as a state-of-the-art, maximum-security prison to house the most serious criminal offenders. The bulk of the facility was never occupied, however, and is sitting vacant. The federal government bought it in 2013.

The prison is expected to bring 1,100 jobs when fully operational.