As many as 100 Guantanamo Bay prisoners will soon be trading in their Cuban prison cells and calling Thomson Correctional Center in Thompson, Illinois their new home.
While 215 detainees are currently being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the exact number to be transferred to the U.S. is difficult to pinpoint. A senior official source says that the absolute maximum number to be transferred is 100, but that the figure will likely be significantly lower, perhaps around 75 or so. It might not be the most exciting news for the residents of the northern city and the surrounding areas but if everything goes according to plan, a possible 2,000 jobs could become available and provide up to $1 billion in federal money to the area. The prison sat empty for nearly 5 years after construction was completed in 2001 because the state lacked the funds to open it. According to the Illinois Department of Corrections’ Web site, now, the up and running maximum-security facility houses 144 minimum-security male inmates. Richard Durbin, the state’s senator, says that if things go according to plan, the new inmates will be housed in a wing under the control of the U.S. Defense Department, and that the Bureau of Prisons would assume responsibility for the rest of the facility.