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Thomson Correctional Center
The Obama administration and Gov. Pat Quinn have agreed on a sale price for the vacant Thomson Correctional Center, a state lawmaker said Wednesday, May 18, 2011 (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, file)

The Obama administration and Gov. Pat Quinn have agreed on a sale price for the vacant Thomson Correctional Center, two Illinois state lawmakers said Wednesday.

However, the governor's office and a top congressional advocate for the deal said there is still work to be done to complete a purchase. Neither would confirm that a price has been agreed to for the prison.

Rep. Rich Morthland, R-Cordova, and Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, said in separate interviews this morning that the two sides had agreed to a $165 million sale price.

"My understanding is there has been some kind of handshake and the deal is moving forward," Jacobs said.

Earlier in the day, Morthland said he was told that an agreement was reached two weeks ago but it was being kept quiet until funding could be secured.

Morthland said he began telling some members of the Quad-City news media after other outlets began reporting the news.

The Obama administration has tried to buy the vacant prison for a year and a half, first proposing that it become a home for foreign detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

That plan was blocked, but the administration has said it wants the prison anyway to ease overcrowding in the federal system.

Even that effort has been stalled, though, since funding has not come through.

Efforts in Congress to secure the $170 million needed to purchase the prison foundered late last year and did not get in the 2011 budget deal when that was approved a few months ago.

Since then, the office of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., has been working with the administration and the Federal Bureau of Prisons to try to reprogram money that has already been appropriated to pay for the acquisition.

"He hopes this can be done as soon as possible so that the purchase can move forward and bring with it the jobs and economic development so important to the region's future," spokesperson Christina Mulka said Wednesday.

Like Durbin's office, a Quinn spokesman also said it is continuing to work toward completing a deal, but he would not say whether a price has been reached.

"We are continuing to work with the federal government regarding the sale of Thomson Correctional Center. We hope to complete the sale as soon as possible," Grant Klinzman added.

A Federal Bureau of Prisons official declined comment on a deal.

The $165 million price cited by the state lawmakers would be less than the appraised value, which was set last year at $220 million. But it would be higher than the $140 million the state paid to build the prison 10 years ago.

Federal officials say the federally owned Thomson prison could mean about 1,000 new jobs for the area.


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