US Senator Dick Durbin says the director of the federal Bureau of Prisons told him the Justice Department is moving forward with plans to open Thomas prison in northwestern Illinois. The federal government bought the prison from the state of Illinois in October. The Bureau of Prisons plans to use the facility as a maximum-security federal prison to alleviate overcrowding. The state built the prison in 2001 but it was never occupied. Durbin and U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos met Thursday with Bureau of Prisons director Charles Samuels. Durbin says the new federal budget should include money for the prison. Durbin and Bustos say they'll work together to make sure the prison opens and brings economic development to the state.
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