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State Hopes To Auction Off Thomson Prison

Congress Adjourns Without Funding Plan To House Guantanamo Detainees
Thomson Prison

The entrance is seen to the Thomson Correctional Center on Nov. 15, 2009, in Thomson, Ill. (Credit: David Greedy / Getty Images)

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THOMSON, Ill. (CBS) – The State of Illinois is hoping to auction off the Thomson Correctional Center Tuesday morning.

The prison, located about three hours northwest of Chicago, has been mostly vacant for eight years.

Last year, the Obama administration proposed buying the prison, and suggested it could house foreign detainees now at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Gov. Pat Quinn said last year that stashing former Gitmo detainees at the prison could rake in as mucha s $21 billion over four years.

But the proposal brought a firestorm of controversy.

Many objected on principle to holding terror suspects on American soil. Also, several Republican Illinois lawmakers – including now-U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk and Reps. Donald Manzullo, Judy Biggert and Peter Roskam – expressed concerns that the prison’s proximity to Chicago would mean the city might become a terrorist target if Guantanamo Bay detainees were held there.

The prison would have housed fewer than 100 of the Gitmo detainees.

Ultimately, the point became moot. Congress adjourned its lame-duck session Monday without providing funding to convert the Thomson prison into a federal Supermax facility.

The $140 million prison opened in 2001 with the promise of jobs and economic prosperity. But by last year, only 200 of its 1,600 beds were in use.

Rural Thompson is located near the Mississippi River about 150 miles west of Chicago. Last year when the conversion of the prison was under discussion, unemployment rates in the town topped 10 percent.

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