The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Gitmo, Illinois?

By Anthonia Akitunde in News on Nov 14, 2009 5:15PM

Photo by tico24
A rural Illinois prison has gained federal attention as a potential new site to "house suspected terrorists currently held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba," according to the Tribune in an exclusive report.

Federal officials have their eyes on the "largely vacant" Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson, Illinois (located 150 miles west of Chicago) as the administration works to close down the "controversial" Guantanamo Bay facility. More than 200 people are currently detained at Guantanamo, a place largely associated with "unpopular U.S. anti-terror and detention policies," the report said. Closing the facility was one of President Obama's first acts in office.

Yet finding a place to hold detainees in the United States has been complicated by a law that states detainees can only come to the states for "purposes of prosecution" and Republican opposition to closing Guantanamo.

An Obama official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, shared the news on Friday, but couldn't say how many detainees would possibly be transferred to Illinois or if Thomson was slated to be the only domestic prison for detainees, according to the Tribune. The $145 million maximum-security prison, built in 2001 to bring jobs to the northern Illinois town, has 1,600 cells but only holds 144 prisoners.

Thomson Village President Jerry Hebeler and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn support the idea of housing detainees in the small town, hoping it will bring a much needed jolt of economic development.