Iowa and Illinois lawmakers tour Thomson prison

THOMSON, III (KWQC) -- Congresswoman Cheri Bustos along with senators Chuck Grassley and Dick Durbin toured the Administrative United States Penitentiary in Thomson, IL. For months now, the prison has been working to hire more correctional officers and the need continues.

“What was formerly a school building is being converted into a daycare center. Obviously something that's needed by the men and women who work here on staff,” said Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat, Illinois.

A much needed daycare is just one of the many steps that lawmakers announced Tuesday, that Thomson prison officials are working on to accommodate the prison employees.

The prison currently houses 750 inmates and only has 400 correctional officers. For months now, they have been trying to fill the gap by offering monetary incentives.

“40 jobs between now and the end of the year will be added. Another 100 plus will be added the year after that,” said Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, Democratic, Illinois.

Last year, senators Grassley and Durbin pushed for the “First Step Act” to pass. A bill that establishes several prison reform programs to prepare inmates to reenter society after they are released.

“I live Thomson prison with a feeling that they are into it. They want to fully carry out the goals that congress established with the bill that the president signed last December,” said Senator Chuck Grassley, Republican, Iowa.

The number of inmates is expected to grow to 1,000 at the federal prison. Officials say they will need at least 600 officers. That also means housing for those employees.

“The folks who come here they need more places to live. So a call to action for anybody who wants to develop apartments, condos, houses. We can do that right here in Carroll County, Thomson and the surrounding communities, said congresswoman Bustos.

“The village of Thomson, which stood by for 10 years waiting, waiting, and waiting, is finally seeing some growth in their own community because of the prison,” said senator Durbin.

The prison is also looking for a new warden to replace one who just left. They are hoping to fill the position by December.

There is a job fair being held at the Sterling Public Library Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m. for anyone interested in becoming a correctional officer. You are asked to bring a resume.