Quinn said that seems to be the mood of Congress after the House
Armed Services Committee earlier this week unanimously approved a
2011 national defense authorization bill that prohibits using money
to build or modify facilities in the United States for Guantanamo
"I think it's less likely, given the Congress with respect to the
issue of detainees, but separate and distinct from that there's a
need for a federal prison," Quinn told reporters.
Quinn has already agreed to sell the mostly unused Thomson
Correctional Center, a maximum-security prison located about 150
miles west of Chicago. But the prospect of moving about 100
detainees there had sparked criticism from some who feared it would
make Illinois a terrorist target.
The Justice Department indicated in March it still wanted to buy the
prison and use it to house federal inmates even if detainees weren't sent there.
The White House says the House committee's action won't impact money for the
Justice Department to buy the prison.
"There is a significant need for another federal prison," said Rich
Carter, a spokesman for Republican Rep. Don Manzullo, whose district
includes Thomson. Manzullo supports turning Thomson into a federal
prison but opposes holding detainees there.
Obama had been looking for a new place to hold detainees because he
promised during the campaign to close the Guantanamo Bay detention
center in Cuba.
Quinn said he expects to put together a deal soon for the prison.
"I'm optimistic we can get that done," he said.
[to top of second column]
The state is in the process of having the prison appraised so
Illinois can get fair market value, he said.
The Democratic governor said selling the prison would add
much-needed capacity to the federal prison system and create jobs in
and around the rural Mississippi River town where the prison is
The prison, which has 1,600 cells, has never been used to its
maximum capacity. It was built in 2001, but state budget troubles
kept it from fully opening. Only its minimum-security unit houses
inmates, with an average daily population of 144, according to the
state Department of Corrections website.
By DEANNA BELLANDI]
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This
material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or