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Federal officials to tour Illinois prison today

Mon., Nov. 16, 2009

CHICAGO – Gov. Pat Quinn and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin on Sunday tried to build support and counter criticism of a proposal to sell a prison in rural northwestern Illinois to the federal government to house Guantanamo Bay detainees and other inmates.

Federal officials are expected to visit the maximum security Thomson Correctional Center, about 150 miles west of Chicago, today.

Both Quinn and Durbin said the possibility of selling the prison to the federal government was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help create about 3,000 jobs.

Critics, including Republican members of Congress from Illinois and GOP candidates for governor, have been quick to condemn the prospect of the sale because of safety concerns.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Andy McKenna said Quinn’s plan to cut spending and create jobs includes bringing “terrorists to Illinois.”

Thomson has been largely vacant since its construction in 2001.

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