Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Illinois town debates idea of feds buying prison for Gitmo detainees; other rural towns seek them

UPDATE 12/15: President Obama has directed the federal government to purchase the Thomson Correctional Cetner in Thomson, Ill., to house Guantanamo Bay detainees, Christi Parsons reports for the Chicago Tribune. One source familiar with the discussions told Parsons the prison could house between 35 and 90 GITMO detainees. (Read more)

Opinions in a rural Illinois town are mixed regarding President Obama's announcement that its prison is being considered to house detainees now at Guantanamo Bay as well as other federal prisoners. The debate among residents of Thomson, Ill., population 550, hinges on whether the increased jobs brought to the struggling area are enough to justify the added security risk, Judy Keen of USA Today reports. (Google map)

The White House says if the federal government bought the Thomson Correctional Center from the state, the facility would bring 2,300 to 3,200 jobs and add up to $1 billion to the local economy in the first four years. The unemployment rate in Carroll County is 10.5 percent. Despite those numbers, some locals still fear for their security. Donna Opheim, a gas-station manager, told Keen, "I'm not so much afraid of the detainees breaking out. It's the people who might be coming in to get them out." (Read more)

Communities in rural Colorado, Montana and Michigan have also welcomed federal consideration to move detainees to their prisons, leading Lee-Anne Goodman of The Canadian Press to conclude, "Canadian Omar Khadr and more than 200 other terror suspects currently detained at Guantanamo Bay may soon find themselves behind bars in rural America." Hardin, Mont., officials say their vacant 460-bed detention center should be more appealing than the Thompson site due to its remote location, making escape more difficult. Greg Smith, Hardin economic development director, told Goodman: "They have to go somewhere ... why not us?" (Read more) Despite some towns' interest, "As economic development projects go, however, few are as politically explosive," Stateline.org reports in a roundup story.

UPDATE, Nov. 25: Folks in rural Florence, Colo., told Kristen Schorsch of the Chicago Tribune that they don't worry about the "supermax" prison in the town of 3,600, which houses several terrorists. "We still leave our doors unlocked at night," former Mayor Bart Hall told her. Florence is near Cañon City, home of the Colorado State Penitentary. (Read more)

1 comment:

peter said...

Illinois unemployment is on the rise, but conditions vary throughout the state according to this heat map: