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Illinois Democrats favor transferring Guantanamo detainees to local prison

[JURIST] Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D) and US Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) [official websites] expressed support [press release] Sunday for the Obama administration's proposal to move Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees to a facility in Northwestern Illinois. The Obama administration is reportedly evaluating [JURIST report] the Thomson Correctional Facility [IDOC backgrounder], a maximum security prison located about 150 miles west of Chicago, as a possible location to house accused terrorists. Quinn and Durbin requested that the administration conduct a preliminary economic impact analysis on the purchase of the facility for use by the Federal Bureau of Prisons [official website]. They pointed to the addition of an estimated 2,340-3,250 new jobs to the community and an estimated $790 million to $1.09 billion impact over four years as reasons to support the proposal. Durbin said the sale is a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to inject a much-needed economic boost to a struggling region.

Not all local leaders are supporting the possible transfer of accused terrorists to Illinois. US Representative Mark Kirk (R-IL) [official website] issued a letter [text] Saturday to President Barack Obama, urging him not to transfer detainees to the Thomson Facility because of fears that it will lead to terrorist activity in the Chicago area. While it is not clear whether the prison would be the only domestic facility for Guantanamo transferees, in order to hold detainees in US, Congress would have to change a law specifically prohibiting detainee transfers into the US except for trials. Last week, US Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] announced [JURIST report] that some of the detainees accused of perpetrating the 9/11 terrorist attacks would be tried on US soil, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Bin Al Shibh [JURIST news archives].

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