December 1997

Illinois legislature approves $95 million for a maximum-security prison. Communities across the state vie for the state’s first maximum-security prison since Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet was built in 1925.

July 1998

Gov. Jim Edgar announces plans to build a 1,000-cell maximum-security prison and adjoining 200-bed minimum-security facility in Thomson, Ill.

May 1999 

Construction begins, expected to be done in 24 months. Plans now call for an additional 600 maximum-security beds, adding $38.4 million in construction costs.

November 2001 

Thomson Correctional Center is ready to open in two to four months, but it’s disclosed that the legislature omitted $12.8 million in initial operating costs in the spring budget bill. It doesn’t open.

February 2002 

Gov. George Ryan’s budget calls for delaying the opening of the now-$140 million prison, saving $50 million a year in operating costs.

February 2006 

Gov. Rod Blagojevich announces plans to hire 75 employees and move 200 minimum-security prisoners in by Sept. 1.

August 2006 

The first minimum-security prisoners arrive.

May 2008 

Blagojevich announces a plan to close the 137-year-old prison in Pontiac and open Thomson’s unused maximum-security wing.

March 2009 

Gov. Pat Quinn announces his proposed budget, which does not include any money to bring more staff or inmates to the Thomson prison.

Nov. 14, 2009 

Quinn confirms that the federal government is considering buying the prison for use as a federal penitentiary and to house some of the terrorism suspects currently being detained in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.


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