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Kirk Wants Guarantee Of No Terrorists At Prison

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/WBBM) – U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) says he is not opposed to the sale of Thomson Prison to the federal government, but says there must be one provision.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Nick Gale reports, Kirk says he wants assurances from the Obama Administration that terrorists being housed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will not be transferred to Thomson, which is located about three hours northwest of Chicago.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Nick Gale reports

“Both Senator Durbin and I have now urged the administration to provide the assurance that no Guantanamo Bay terrorists would come to Thomson,” Kirk said.

Kirk toured the shuttered facility Wednesday. The maximum-security prison, built in 2001, has 1,600 beds. Making it a federal facility would bring more than 1,000 jobs to the area.

The Obama administration proposed in 2009 that Thomson could be used to house Guantanamo detainees after the infamous detention camp is closed.

Gov. Pat Quinn said at the time 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 Kirk, as well as 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. The previous Congress adjourned its lame-duck session in December of last year without providing funding to convert the Thomson prison into a federal Supermax facility.