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Thomson Becomes Low Security Prison

Thomson prison
US Bureau of Prisons
Thomson prison

A major change is in store for the federal prison at Thomson in northwest Illinois. The US Bureau of Prisons has decided to convert it to a low security facility, several months after high security inmates were transferred to other prisons.

But there will still be serious problems, according to Jon Zumkehr, President of Local 40-70 of the American Federation of Government Employees. He says the Bureau of Prisons wants to cancel the current retention bonus that adds up to 16,000 dollars per year.

"If you remember two years ago we got that retention bonus secured because the factories were paying more than they were at a high security prison. Yes, we're going to be low security but still you're working in a prison and a factory is paying more than you, so we have to be competitive."

He also worries that there's not enough space for programs that can teach inmates job and life skills for when they're released.

"We're asking, before we move inmates into USP Thomson, we get the infrastructure needed for programming and not just warehouse inmates at USP Thomson."

Currently the Thomson prison has up 1,200 inmates, and the Bureau of Prisons plans to send 1,000 more, and cut 150 positions by attrition. Guards and other staff now total about 450.