A prison complex 150 miles from Chicago will house Gitmo detainees, the Obama administration will announce Tuesday.
A senior administration official tells ABC News that on Tuesday the administration will announce that President Obama “has directed that the federal government proceed with the acquisition of the Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson, Illinois to house federal inmates and a limited number of detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”
Thomson Correctional Center is a maximum security prison that opened in 2001 but has never been fully utilized because of state budget issues.
Information from the state of Illinois indicates that Thomson Correctional Center is a Level 1 adult male maximum-security facility comprised of 1,600 cells and eight housing units, none of which are currently used. The facility is on 146 acres and is currently surrounded by a 12-foot exterior fence and 15-foot interior fence — which includes a dual sided electric stun fence. The cell houses were constructed with pre-cast, reinforced cement walls. The complex also contains a 200-bed minimum-security unit, which has been operational.
“Closing the detention center at Guantanamo is essential to protecting our national security and helping our troops by removing a deadly recruiting tool from the hands of al Qaeda,” the official said. “Tomorrow’s announcement is an important step forward as we work to achieve our national security objectives.”
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Sen. Dick Durbin, two leading officials — both Democrats — who have supported the move, will be briefed on the decision Tuesday by administration officials.
We first reported on Thomson being a possible locale for Gitmo detainees on November 14.