Illinois' governor and senior senator spent yesterday feverishly trying to regain momentum on their plan to use a nearly empty maximum-security prison 150 miles from Chicago to house Gitmo detainees. With federal officials visiting Thomson Correctional Center today, local GOP lawmakers had gone on the offense Saturday, calling it a threat to security. But both Gov. Pat Quinn and Sen. Dick 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.
The prison is located in an area where unemployment has topped 10%. "We have an opportunity to bring thousands of good-paying jobs to Illinois when we need them the most," Durbin said in one of several stops around the state. Both said safety concerns had been exaggerated, and fewer than 100 of the inmates would be Guantanamo Bay detainees if the Federal Bureau of Prisons buys the facility ."We're here today to let the people know we're not going to let the fearmongers carry the day," said Quinn, who does not need legislative approval to sell the facility. "We're going to do things right, the Illinois way."