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Question of the day

Monday, Nov 23, 2009

* We spent much of last week discussing the governor’s controversial plan to sell the Thomson prison to the feds so that the Gitmo detainees can be moved there, along with hundreds of other inmates.

* The Question: Do you support or oppose this proposal? Explain thoroughly, please. And try to stay as Illinois focused as possible. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

69 Comments
  1. - Thomas Westgard - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 10:46 am:

    Support. Dealing with these prisoners is part of the cost of the war(s) that Bush started, and we have a prison system that is designed to deal with criminals, including the worst people in the world. The Illinois focus is largely illusory - it’s not like Chicago wasn’t a target before this idea came up, or will be less of one if we don’t accept. Yes, an impoverished part of the state will get some jobs, but honestly, if not this deal now, then they will probably get another deal later. The point - the whole point - is that we are finally dismantling Bush’s torture infrastructure. This is one small part of that process.


  2. - Vote Quimby! - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 10:50 am:

    Support. We need any jobs, and I believe terrorist threat is minimal. Sell it and at least we are not losing future revenues as with a lottery lease. Besides I believe Grayville would like to move up the ladder on getting its prison open…


  3. - cassandra - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 10:50 am:

    I’m fine with it, although I doubt it will lead to an economic renaissance for the region….although
    you wouldn’t know from the Democrats’ happy talk about numbers of jobs created, etc.

    I don’t trust our accidental guv to get a good price though. As we saw over and over again this summer, when the going gets tough, our Pat either caves completely or disappears (where is that ethics bill by the way?). Maybe he’s got somebody tough in the wings to do his negotiating for him.
    Otherwise, we’ll get fleeced.


  4. - Ghost - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 10:50 am:

    I oppose this. I am apprantly the lone voice in the wilderness who think financially IL needs to start using this new faiclity and use it to offload/ shut donw one of its outdated crumbling prisons.

    IL prisons are falling into disrepair faster then we have made plans to repair or replace them. We approaching another massive financial crisis having to upgrade/repair or replace or crumbling prisons. If we are going to sell off a prison, sell off Stateville, pontiac, dwights etc; one of the other ooutdated and deterioriating facilties we have, and keep the brand new one.

    Ill keep slanding in fiscal crisis because we use short term quick cash to cover the imemdiate activities, and put off expenses and do not use fiscally sound long term planning. The State will be in exsitance forever. We need to replace outdated assets, not get rid of new ones. Selling off thompson puts us into a bigger future finacial crisis with DOC facilties for very little gain in the present. Imagine the cost of havuing to build multiple new prisons as a fast pace becuase we waited to long to do something with the current problem.

    Another commentator indicated we could save an estimated 35 million by reducing/closing stateville and using thompson; this is additional savings which is n top of my main concern.

    Illinois needs to stop these penny wise pound foolish financial decisions. Enough selling away present assets to offload debt and fincial expense to the future. Kepp the prison we need and bring it online.


  5. - well - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 10:53 am:

    Oppose. This plan is classic short-term thinking. Gov Quinn and Senator Durbin want us to take at least 100 terrorists that almost no one else wants in exchange for chump change and a handful of jobs.

    What we should do is open Thompson ourselves, so we can close down costly, outdated prisons elsewhere in the state. That saves us money and guarantees jobs to local people in Northern Illinois (because remember, if the Feds buy it they will be hiring nationally). And we wouldn’t have to take a whole bunch of terrorists.

    The root cause of Illinois’ problems has been our feckless politicians forgoing long-term benefits for a short-term fix. It’s time for them to stop it and get serious.


  6. - Niles Township - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 10:55 am:

    I oppose the closure of Gitmo. However (and in keeping with Rich’s usual charge of remaining IL focused), if Gitmo is to be closed, I fully support Thomson serving as a federal maximum security prison that would house terrorists along with super max warranted criminals. If Gitmo is closing, they need to moved somewhere. Might as well be IL. We can use the jobs and economic development that occur when a federal prison is opened nearby. Northwest Illinois can use the jobs in particular.


  7. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 10:56 am:

    Support. It provides Jobs, gets a vacant non used piece of property off the books. We get some much needed cash.


  8. - Big Policy Nerd - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 10:58 am:

    Support. George W Bush said that we are a country based on the rule of law and that the terrorists should be tried here. One, there appears to be local support for the project in an area that is desperate for economic growth and jobs. Two, the prison has been deemed as one of the most secure in the nation. It would be supervised by trained military professionals, so the facility is safe. Three, the prision was bealth under the Edgar administartion, left un funded by Ryan and is totally underutilized. The state needs the revenue, people need the jobs and if we don’t take them, they will just go to Colorado or Montana . Four, the pathetic fear mongering from Kirk and Roskam and the GOP Governor candidates is done to appeal to the Fox news fringe of their party. We already have 35 terrorists doing time in Illinois, there haven’t been any terrorist attacks on American soil where terrorist suspects are doing time. The area needs jobs. The prison is basically empty. The state needs the revenue. If the local community is in favor of it, bring them there and let them rot.


  9. - Action Jackson - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 10:59 am:

    Support, as long as

    1. There is a long term plan to deal with the detainees (I don’t want to hear 30 years from now so-and-so is still there from back in 2009).

    2. It is only the current Gitmo detainees, and doesn’t turn into a general POW camp for expanded operations in Afghanistan.

    3. The Feds pay market rate.

    4. The locals in the community are on board.


  10. - cassandra - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 10:59 am:

    Ghost

    There is another solution which is to reduce the prison population and rely more heavily on electonic monitoring.

    To his credit, the guv has actually made a very small step in the direction of reducing the population. But long-term reform is needed.


  11. - Louis Howe - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 11:02 am:

    Actually, Ghost has the better management plan—use Thompson and shut down another state facility. The second best would be sell Thompson and then use stimulus money to build a Stateville replacement. Unfortunately, it takes legislative and executive political leadership to shut down Stateville and neither governmental branch is willing to stand and deliver (Too concerned about AFSCME and local legislators). Therefore, sell Thompson.


  12. - reformer - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 11:03 am:

    Opponents of the income tax say we should just cut state spending. The Thomson plan would reduce state spending while raising state revenue without a tax hike and the same people are opposed. I agree with Rep. Sacia, an honest Republican.


  13. - heet101 - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 11:05 am:

    I have no doubt the men and women in our military and the people who work in our law enforcement and corrections communities can handle the task. I’m not afraid of putting those cowards behind bars and paying our citizens money to guard them. What I would have to say is that $120 million is a complete and utter joke. I can’t be for this plan until Illinois gets at least $2 billion up front in cash from the feds.


  14. - Carl Nyberg - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 11:09 am:

    I don’t see this as a big deal.

    If you ask people about nuclear power plants in the abstract they will tell you they don’t want one nearby. But once there is one nearby it’s not a big deal.

    I predict the Guantanamo detainees will be the same way. Some people will say they don’t like the idea and when it happens life will go on the same as it was before.

    Rich, the twist on the question I’m curious about is cross referencing support for Obama.

    Did you vote for Obama? Are you generally satisfied with his performance as POTUS? Do you support moving Guantanamo detainees to the United States? Do you support the plan to move them to Thomson?

    This issue is potentially a problem for Democrats if there are Obama supporters who oppose the Thomson plan. It’s potentially a problem for Republicans if there are McCain voters who support the Thomson plan.

    If it’s just partisans squealing phony outrage then it’s not really a big deal.


  15. - FYI - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 11:10 am:

    It’s Thomson, not Thompson.


  16. - VanillaMan - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 11:10 am:

    No.
    You put people arrested for attempting to destroy our civilization as far from our civilization as possible. Nevada, Western Utah, North Dakota, or even better, Guantanamo Bay - where they were!


  17. - Will County Woman - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 11:11 am:

    I oppose.

    I do not trust that enough independent analysis/review has be done on this issue. I think it is more cost effective for the detainess to remain where they are. The major players in this decision are desperate and have their own agendas here.

    The New York times has an interesting and depressing article about the federal budget deficit. Spending money on 100 detainees hardly seems like a worthwhile expenditure of hundreds of millions or possibly billions of dollars in upfront costs.

    It’s going to take time to retrofit Thomson, and by then shouldn’t the 100 or so detainees have received a trial by then? If so, many may be released from U.S. custody making that 100 a considerably smaller number. Why not try the remaining detainees first, while they are still at Gitmo, and then see what numbers we are actually looking at possibly bringing to Thomson?

    I don’t trust the projected 3000 jobs claims by the white house because of its failed and questionable stimulus projections.

    It is not the case that all gitmo detainees who have been released have all been deported. In fact some have been allowed to remain in the U.S. at U.S. taxpayer expense. http://www.france24.com/en/20090327-guantanamo-inmates-may-be-released-in-usa-social-rehabilitation

    I am NOT concerned about the possibility enemy combatants escaping from Thomson, but I am concerned about Jihadist fervor, the same fervor that influenced the 9/11 attacks, in other parts of the world targeting Chicago, which is only 150 miles away from Thomson, for a terrorist attack. (the concern about Gitmo was that it would attract terrorist to attack. Presumably wherever the 9/11 detainees are housed increases risk of terrorist attack, which helps to explain why Kathleen Sebelius (former Kansas guv) etc. went NIMBY in their opposition t placing the Gitmo detainees on U.S. soil)


  18. - Billy Dennis - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 11:15 am:

    There is NOTHING Illinois-based about the opposition to this. All opposition is based on party politics and fear mongering by the GOP. The ought to be ashamed of themselves.


  19. - Justice - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 11:16 am:

    Oppose.

    The short term gain is laughable. Our prisons are crumbling as it is and housing any additional detainees should be those who are already in our system in Illinois. They should be transferred to Thomson.

    Sell the run-down prisons and let the feds fix them.

    I think this “War on Terror” was started by those bombing the Twin Towers, Pentagon, and crashing the plane in Pa.?


  20. - 47th Ward - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 11:20 am:

    On the national issue of closing of Guantanamo, I support that decision.

    Keeping this local per instructions, if these detainees will be moved to a U.S. mainland location, why shouldn’t it be Illinois?

    Thomson is ready to handle this. The state should negotiate a higher reimbursement if that is possible, but we are more than up to the task of operating this facility in partnership with the Department of Defense. It will not increase the risk of attack. It will not reduce our safety.

    Again, if you accept those premises, why shouldn’t Illinois get this opportunity? I’m for it because we can handle the duty. I’m proud of my state and its willingness to take on this important responsibility.


  21. - Bob - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 11:24 am:

    Leave them in CUBA. Once they are on the US soil and in civilian courts they have the same rights as other Americans. It will cost millions to prosecute them in civilian courts. They will get to use the US news-media to spread there propaganda. They are Prisoners of war. Have in the history of the US have we ever had public trials of Prisoners of war. Yes open Thomson but not with POW’s.


  22. - ivoted4judy - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 11:27 am:

    Opposed; I dont want those terrorists anywhere near my family. Durbin is a JOKE, when he says there would be no fall out from Al Queda! Plus, the figure thrown around by the Obama Administration is a true low ball offer. If it is so safe lets house them in Durbin’s neighborhood.


  23. - Rich Miller - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 11:28 am:

    ===If it is so safe lets house them in Durbin’s neighborhood. ===

    There is no prison in Durbin’s neighborhood. Tone it down, please.


  24. - Will County Woman - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 11:28 am:

    “Keeping this local per instructions”-47th ward

    actually I read this:

    “And try to stay as Illinois focused as possible’

    “Thomson is ready to handle this.”

    No it’s not. It’s going to cost money and require construction to make it 9/11 enemy combatant detainee ready.

    “It will not increase the risk of attack. It will not reduce our safety.”

    And you know this for a fact how?


  25. - Anonymous - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 11:29 am:

    OPPOSE

    -prisons are not good economic development.

    -I don’t like the idea of becoming known as the state housing gitmo folks.


  26. - Captain Flume - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 11:31 am:

    Support, at least until facts unknown now might indicate otherwise. If Thomson is little used, a drain on state resources (even in “good” economic times), why not sell it to the Feds? There is some ROI on it, certainly. As for housing alleged foreign criminals there, why not? Crime is crime and murder is murder. If they killed U.S. citizens, then detain them in the States, in closer proximity to the full weight of the justice system. Tim McVeigh was not sent to Guantanamo, yet his crime was at least as heinous as the any that the current suspects are accused of, and he was housed in Indiana. If an Illinois prison is good enough for the Feds to buy, renovate, and operate, then Illinois should be proud of its ability to build strong prisons and reap some benefit from them.


  27. - CircularFiringSquad - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 11:34 am:

    Support
    The transaction makes great sense
    From a penal decision, we all know that as soon as Fidel check out the chances of the US keeping GITMO are somewhere between slim and none.
    IL is a great choice becuase we are tough people who can keep these mopes in check
    It also means jobs and spending for IL
    Finally it drives all the wingnuts crazy which is always a very worthwhile subvictory.
    Commando Kirk and his crew (Mr. Dreamy, Manzo, StateWideTom etc) have self inflicted the most damaging wounds possible.
    The latest to seal the deal was the IL-GITMO endorsement from BlinkyJim Edgar — the reverved leader.
    Thanx to Capt Fax for recirculating this issue for a few more days. First GOPs get beat on health care and now they need to rehab on IL-GITMO


  28. - downstate hick - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 11:36 am:

    Support, but only if the feds pay a premium. I would say a double the cost of the prison up front and all improvement costs, plus twice the usual rate per prisoner, and a guarantee of minimum yearly payments for 10 years.


  29. - Loop Lady - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 11:54 am:

    I am for it for a variety of reasons:

    1) Stateville is a dump and less efficient to operate. Close it and if the AFSCME workers want to take a job @ Thomson, start packing…if not start looking for a new job…

    2) 3000 jobs in an perenially economically depressed area

    3) Super max prison..I am not worried about the safety of IL citizens…I worry more about someone breaking out of MCC in the LOOP

    4) Quinn helps out Obama on a campaign promise, BO owes Pat one…

    5)The Republicans look loke a horses’ doopa when all goes well and everyone forgets about the hoopla a year from now…


  30. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 11:56 am:

    Support. It’s a modern prison, which, for political reasons may never open. (Not enough COs want to move there and have their current facility shut down.) It will have some Gitmo people for a few years, big deal. If you think those folks are any more dangerous than some of the people we already have locked up (foreign & domestic terrorists, mobsters, gangbangers, etc.), you’re kidding yourself.

    We need to make sure we get enough money to build a new prison next to an old one that needs to be shut down (such as Stateville or Pontiac).


  31. - Anonymous - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 11:57 am:

    Anonymous 11:29, please find another handle; that one’s taken. Thank you.

    I oppose the transfers of the prisoners to Thomson because I oppose the closure of Guantanamo Bay and am concerned about trying terrorists in Federal Court. Without getting into more details because I know I’ll get slapped on the wrist, an article came out yesterday indicating that the five being tried have already decided to plead not guilty so that they have a stage to discuss US foreign policy–and it’s not positive–according to their attorney.

    Nuff said though I could obviously go on for hours.


  32. - Plutocrat03 - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 11:59 am:

    Not enough information to support or oppose.
    - How much are the feds willing to pay?
    - What will the state do with the money? The prison was built for a reason with public funds. Will the money be used to retire the bonds issued for that purpose? Were there additional bonds for infrastructure that also need to be covered? Will it be used to build a replacement prison/infrastructure somewhere and will the funds be sufficient to build this new prison in 2010 dollars. If the money just goes
    - Will there be a pledge for future monies to support the state if something untoward happens?
    - How many locally sourced permanent jobs will actually be created? The construction jobs are likely specialized and short term so out of state or out of area contractors will do the work. DoD will guard the Gitmo prisoners, so no local jobs there either. How many federal prisoners will there be housed there? What jobs will local Illinois residents actually get?


  33. - Judgment Day Is On The Way - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 12:02 pm:

    Oppose.

    1) Financially, it looks like a poor deal for the State of Illinois.

    2) Need to use Thomson to replace one of our outdated correction facilities.

    3) Have absolutely no faith in the reliability of the “new jobs” numbers being tossed around.


  34. - Justice - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 12:04 pm:

    Rich, has anyone done a study on the effect on the community of building a prison in that community….or in this case, populating one? The jobs are great but some time back I seem to remember that there was a surge of crime as a result of the characters showing up in town to visit their friends and family.

    Of course this could be twisted to suggest that terrorists were also going to show up and we can all run screaming into the night.

    I still oppose but for reasons previously stated.


  35. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 12:44 pm:

    I find it hard to believe that any self-respecting terrorist would declare themselves as such by going to visit their friends in prison.

    And, I think it is probably safe to say that the folks in the NW corner of our state are pretty well armed. I speak as a fellow down-stater.

    I think Thomson will be just fine.

    (I continue to find it ironic that all those Republicans who are so concerned for our safety are so opposed to health care reform.)


  36. - cermak_rd - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 12:54 pm:

    I support because of the jobs. Rural economies are hurting, and it’s not likely to get better anytime soon. Jobs in such an area are not to be sneezed at.

    As for safety…have you seen some of the bios of the characters we currently keep locked up in our prisons? That Sowell character out in Ohio will be locked up in an Ohio state prison, Gacy was in an IL state prison. Heck McVeigh was in a federal prison.

    Besides, Chicago and therefore IL is already likely to be a target anyway.


  37. - well - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 1:38 pm:

    Anonymous 11:57 - If you wanted your own unique handle, maybe you shouldn’t have chose “Anonymous”. Please stop complaining about it in every thread.


  38. - Matt - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 2:21 pm:

    Support.

    Job creation, aids in closing Gitmo, supermax prisons are safe, will probably lead to justice instead of simply detaining people without charge indefinitely.

    And I find all the “if we do this, terrorists will attack” to be more than just fear mongering. The day we avoid justice because we FEAR terrorists is the day the terrorists win.


  39. - KeepSmiling - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 2:34 pm:

    Oppose, unless we are certain that we won’t need Thomson. Before we sell our best prison facility to the Feds, the State should develop a clear plan for rebuilding/modernizing other IL prisons and have a plan to pay for it.

    Now, if we could lease the prison to the Feds and the revenue was going into an “unsweepable” IL prison capital, operating and maintenance fund, and the revenue stream from the lease deal matched the revenue targets needed to operate and maintain prisons per a Statewide Prison COM Plan, I might reconsider.

    I don’t care who’s housed in the prison. I care about our State making fiscally responsible decisions for the future of Illinois. That’s right… the *future* of Illinois, not the next election.


  40. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 2:39 pm:

    “unsweepable”

    Funniest thing I’ve read all day! LOL


  41. - Bob - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 2:44 pm:

    Stateville and/or Pontiac need to be closed, but they will never be closed until the legislature and executive branches are willing to go against AFSCME, which they aren’t. They have tried to close those prisons, and no one is strong enough to do it. Therefore, we will never have enough money to open Thomson. Therefore, we will continue to pay just to keep it running, and to repair the roofs that fall in. Is there any realistic way to break this cycle of waste than just to sell the prison? I can see how this is a dream come true to get rid of that place.

    I can’t imagine this state EVER having enough money to build another prison. The fiscally responsible thing to do is lower the recidivism rate, and release more prisoners, as other states have. And, they could convert Tamms, which is always half empty, to take some of the maximum security overflow.


  42. - Ghost - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 2:45 pm:

    === There is NOTHING Illinois-based about the opposition to this. ====

    Go read my response.


  43. - Responsa - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 2:51 pm:

    Right now, against—although I started as neutral. My initial reaction to the Thomson proposal last week was shock that such an important and unexpected issue was just being sprung on us with so little attempt to provide background or any balanced, reasoned, pro and con analysis by either the politicos or the media. I think many “normal”* people see this as something with some possible legit benefits and also with some possible legit negatives that needed to be intelligently and seriously articulated, discussed and weighed. That has not occurred, so far. Many “normal”* citizens also seem to harbor skepticism about the government cutting a fair deal as to the prison’s worth based on previous well-publicized alleged bad deals for Illinois.

    After a full week, few new answers, recognition of concerns, appropriate detailed discussion or additional info on the merits of the Thomson plan have been forthcoming. The “slam bam, thank you ma’m” aspects of this are really rather troubling. Don’t people in government see any value in some level of foreplay/conversation with their constituents anymore?

    The more this has turned into a shouting match, the more the discussion has been relegated to simplistic talking points, and the more those who dare to even ask legitimate questions about aspects of the deal seem to be branded as mere fearmongers — the more against the proposal I have become. That is subject to change, but I for one want some better assurances and answers than have been put out so far.

    *by “normal” I simply mean regular folks who are taxpayers and residents, but not paid partisans, anyone currently occupying a government job, or those closely affiliated with any campaign.


  44. - tvor - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 2:52 pm:

    Forgive the following logic exercise, but it seems so obvious that I cannot believe not a single commenter has yet addressed any part of it.

    Q. Why was Thomson built?
    A. To relieve overcrowding in other maximum security state prisons.

    Q. Was that a legitimate need, and does it persist?
    A. Yes, state prisons are at 135% of capacity overall, 170% in maximum security.

    Q. So therefore none of the solutions proposed above - selling Thomson, or closing another state prison to open Thomson, or letting minimum security inmates out prematurely - address the problem?
    A. Correct.

    Therefore I would not sell Thomson to the feds.

    Life would be so simple without overheated politics and misinformed talking points (on BOTH sides of the aisle).


  45. - Bob - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 3:14 pm:

    tvor,
    Assuming you are righ (which I do) don’t you think we have to acknowledge the political reality that your logic has ALSO been true for the past 8 years. Yet, we can’t get the prison open. Why? Even before the current budget crisis, we could not afford to open Thomson without closing another prison. Now with way less revenue, we will never be able to afford to open Thomson, even if we got another prison closed.

    As long as we are talking fantasy world here, prison capacity is not a fixed sum. We increase our own prison populations by adding to sentence lengths every chance we get. And, like I said before, investing in lowering recidivism would also lower the prison population. Programs work. It isn’t rocket science.


  46. - anon - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 3:19 pm:

    I dont think anyone can really make an informed decision because the Governor’s office hasn’t provided the information. They made a great splash about the possibility of selling the prison, but didn’t really provide any details.

    It is ridiculous to assume that moving suspected terrorists to an IL prison will somehow put IL at the top of the list for terrorist attacks. We have a major city - we are already at the top of the list.

    The main reason you should oppose any plan to sell/lease the prison is that IL needs that prison. What happens in a few years when the government realizes that Statesville cannot be repaired and we need to move our prisoners? Someone will say, “we need a capital bill so we can build a prison.” We paid a lot to build it, didn’t use it properly, and now we want to practically give it away?

    The main reason to support is that a fully functioning prison will bring jobs to an area hard hit by tough economic times.


  47. - Deep South - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 3:24 pm:

    It seems to me that if the U.S. government paid a premium for Thomson, the state would have a enough money to build a new prison and have some dollars left over to help cover the budget hole. So saying Illinois needs the prison to replace another one that is overcrowded or falling apart is not really a very valid arguement.


  48. - tvor - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 3:32 pm:

    Assuming you are righ (which I do) don’t you think we have to acknowledge the political reality that your logic has ALSO been true for the past 8 years. Yet, we can’t get the prison open. Why?

    Because the budget is broken

    Even before the current budget crisis, we could not afford to open Thomson without closing another prison.

    Considering the $60 million + spent on overtime in state prisons last year alone, I’m not sure that’s true. Existing resources could be spent more wisely.

    Or (gasp) we could raise more revenue to attend to legitimate needs like safer prisons.

    As long as we are talking fantasy world here, prison capacity is not a fixed sum. We increase our own prison populations by adding to sentence lengths every chance we get. And, like I said before, investing in lowering recidivism would also lower the prison population. Programs work. It isn’t rocket science.

    Agreed all the way. However, lowering recidivism is a long term goal, meanwhile, we have an immediate, existing crowding crisis. Premature release of inmates is not an answer to that crisis because the worst crowding is among the worst (most dangerous, maximum security) inmates who will not be released.

    Further Illinois is actually moving AWAY from progress on recidivism because both in state prisons and in the community it has cut funding for the kind of rehabilitative programs - substance abuse treatment, mental health care, etc - that we know work to reduce crime.

    With respect to sentencing, again, I agree with you, but that takes changing either laws or the behavior of judges. Since both groups are politicians fearful of being soft on crime, I don’t see it happening.

    So for now, in Logical World, you open Thomson to relieve crowding in other prisons, AND you work to build back the programs that reduce recidivism, AND you try to moderate sentencing laws.


  49. - D.P. Gumby - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 3:39 pm:

    Yes, close Gitmo; Yes, sell Thomson; Yes, reduce Ill. prison overcrowding by releasing non-violent offenders, increase funding and use of parole and parole officers, increase use of education and rehabilitation in prisons, reduce mandatory minimum sentences. Then tell me why we should be warehousing people in more and more prisons.


  50. - Ghost - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 3:40 pm:

    === Forgive the following logic exercise, but it seems so obvious that I cannot believe not a single commenter has yet addressed any part of it. ====

    your kidding right? I have left a trail of entries on every topic about the prison along these very same line, including earlier in this thread.


  51. - Mountain Man - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 3:44 pm:

    Support. They have to go somewhere and it may as well be Thomson as anywhere else…iow, Illinois may as well benefit from the federal investment as any other state.


  52. - tvor - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 3:45 pm:

    @ Ghost

    Actually no, i see you saying Thomson should replace another facility, which is not its intended purpose and would not relieve the crowding problem.

    Let me know if I misread you.


  53. - Fan of the Game - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 4:03 pm:

    oppose

    Some of our state prisons are inefficient and/or beyond repair. Open Thomson and close one of the less efficient and costlier prisons.


  54. - Reformer - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 4:36 pm:

    Every time an old prison is up for closure, the legislators from both parties representing the area unite in implaccable opposition. Ask Sen. Rutherford, for example, if he thinks Pontiac should be closed. Ask Rep. Kosel about Stateville. Former Sen. Watson went nuts when Vandalia was on the chopping block. Everyone is for cutting until their ox is gored.


  55. - Third Generation Chicago Native - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 4:38 pm:

    Support.

    After reading everything from the area where Thomson Prison is, they want it, they want the jobs, they are the most afftected by the decision and they are in favor of it. Jim Sacia whose constituents are in the area said it best.

    The jobs are needed, that area around Thomson Prison needs the economic growth, it is an underutilized prison that needs to be used. I don’t feel there are threats, because the Gitmo prisoners for the most part will not have visitors. It is not likely that the prisoners colleages (for lack of a better term) will blow them up, there are too many more substaintle targets.


  56. - Gregor - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 6:00 pm:

    Support. Slam-dunk. Just set the correct price, as Rich has suggested we may be low-balling this.

    Regardless of Gitmo, if the Feds want to pay the right price for it, might as well sell it since we’re not using it and have no way to start using it because of the gridlocked and cowardly legislature.

    The local area will finally get *some* economic stimulus out if it, even if the staff comes from outside of the local area, they need homes, groceries, clothes, furniture, sundries, schools for their kids, restaurants, laundries, car repair… is it 3,000 job’s worth, well, DCEO inflates job multipliers like IDOA inflates state fair attendance numbers, but still, it will be a positive economic stimulus for that area, and a stable one.

    My heart goes out to the communities in Pontiac and elsewhere; those prisons are understaffed and in need of repair and renovation, and if the idea is to reform convicts, we are not putting enough money into alternative programs; drug counseling, job training and counseling, and more and better parole officer operations. This is a continuing shame for the state and I wish a rational budget with a fair revenue increase could address this and many more equally pressing needs.

    The terrorism fear-mongering whargrble is a cheap distraction and most everybody has seen thru it already for what it was.


  57. - DuPage Dan - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 6:21 pm:

    I agree with Ghost and VM - I oppose this mess. The prison was built to house Illinois convicts but was never opened due to political/union reasons. Close Stateville and move ‘em to Thomson. Gitmo is a facility that is working despite what you hear from the screamers. No need to move any of those held there to any facility on mainland US soil. It is a short term bandaid that won’t help one bit.


  58. - Levi voted for Judy - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 6:26 pm:

    Totally support it. The citizens of Thomson lobbied for it. It would bring tremendous economic impact to the community and region. Even if the resident only get 20 percent of the jobs (600), the labor force for the entire county is only 8,750 and Thomson only has 599 residents. Plus Thomson and Carroll County are both losing population. As far as Chicago being a terrorist threat, it already is and Thomson is actually on the Iowa border. Finally, has anyone ever escaped from a Super Max prison in the U.S.? I may be wrong, but I don’t think so.


  59. - Responsa - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 6:41 pm:

    With all due respect to the fine folks of Thomson, unless they singlehandedly paid for the construction of the prison why do some people feel the Thomsonites should be accorded more moral authority or input over the detainee decision and prison sale than any other individual tax payer in the state?


  60. - Fan of the Game - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 7:24 pm:

    @ Reformer

    Those proposed closings were political in nature. Gov. Blagojevich wanted to close Vandalia to gig Frank. Someone’s ox needs goring, but such overt political slayings are not the way to do it.


  61. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 8:23 pm:

    ==Those proposed closings were political in nature.==

    Yes and no. Vandalia, Pontiac, & Statesville are all well beyond their useful lives and need to be closed. Instead of bidding out for new prisons, the state should have built new facilities right next to the old ones and then torn the old ones down. The political move that has served us least well was building the new facilities in new locations.


  62. - tvor - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 8:52 pm:

    The total lack of information behind these comments is appalling. But then, I guess, welcome to the internet.


  63. - Rich Miller - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 8:58 pm:

    ===The total lack of information behind these comments is appalling.===

    What a stupid comment that was. You criticize lack of information and then stop right there. Do you not see the irony in your goofiness?


  64. - Rich Miller - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 9:00 pm:

    ===why do some people feel the Thomsonites should be accorded more moral authority or input over the detainee decision and prison sale ===

    Probably because so many politicians warned that everybody in Thomson would die if this prison was populated with a handful of Gitmo detainees. lol


  65. - Will County Woman - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 9:37 pm:

    LOL! I love how Fox32 briefly interviews the Governor about Thomson, and the Governor states that safety will not be an issue, then moments later the station runs an expose about lax TSA security at Chicago airports.

    I love how those who support Thomson write posts in which they claim that Kirk and other republican concerns about the airports or what have you are somehow exaggerated.

    LOL!


  66. - Reformed - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 9:42 pm:

    SUPPORT, but…..I have to point out the hipocracy. When Pontiac was set to close and Thomson open last year at this time, all media stories focused on the report that all of the jobs would end up in IOWA. What happened to that claim?


  67. - Quizzical - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 10:52 pm:

    Absolutely, the jobs are needed and I don’t think it makes us any more vulnerable to Al Queda. Nothing we do/don’t do will make them attempt anything they otherwise wouldn’t.


  68. - way northsider - Monday, Nov 23, 09 @ 11:24 pm:

    Support. It is ridiculous to be so terrified of terrorist attacks. If we cower, they win. In any case, Illinois desperately needs the jobs. Bring them here!


  69. - tvor - Tuesday, Nov 24, 09 @ 9:38 am:

    You criticize lack of information and then stop right there. Do you not see the irony

    I had laid out all my thoughts in earlier comments in this thread. Didn’t think it necessary to repeat them. But I apologize for the tone, that was frustration talking. You know the feeling, I see how burned you get when people say we should balance the budget by cutting the Du Quoin State Fair.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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