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U.S. eyes Ill. prison for Gitmo detainees

  |   Nov. 14, 2009 at 11:20 AM
THOMSON, Ill., Nov. 14 (UPI) -- The White House is seriously considering a nearly empty prison in rural Illinois to hold some Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, terrorism detainees, sources say.

Citing an unnamed Obama administration sources, the Chicago Tribune reported Saturday the Thomson Correctional Center, located about 150 miles west of Chicago, has emerged as a "leading option" to house detainees now at the military prison at Guantanamo, which President Barack Obama has vowed to close.

The newspaper said federal officials are discussing buying the facility from the Illinois Department of Corrections and converting it to a maximum-security prison.

"This has emerged as a leading option," an Obama administration official told the Tribune, adding that only a "limited number" of Guantanamo's approximately 215 remaining detainees would be transferred to the Illinois prison.

The newspaper said the White House is working with Congress to change a law barring Guantanamo detainees from entering the United States for any reason other than a trial. If that change can be made, Thomson reportedly could figure prominently in the closure of the Cuban prison camp.

The Tribune said Illinois' state budget crunch has left the facility, which was designed for 1,600 inmates, holding only 144 prisoners.

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