If it’s not too premature, I would like to welcome my new neighbors, those detainees from the soon-to-be-closed Guantanamo prison camp, to the greatest state in the country — Illinois.
I know that everyone thinks their own state is tops, but really, let’s get serious. The terrorists will be coming to a state that boasts stupendous agricultural bounty, hard-working and industrious people, and a political system that is the envy of the Western world.
Well … maybe West Newark.
To familiarize you with your new home, allow me to give you some fun facts about Illinois and offer you a look at your soon-to-be-new prison, the Thomson Correctional Center.
“Land of Lincoln”
That’s our state motto. No, Honest Abe was not born here (he was born in Kentucky). He didn’t grow up here either (he spent several years in Indiana). But since both Kentucky and Indiana were a little slow in claiming him as one of their own, he got to be ours by default.
You might also be interested to know that our state amphibian is the Eastern tiger salamander, our state insect is the monarch butterfly, and our state reptile is the painted turtle. And when the state legislature gets around to naming an official jihadist martyr, we’ll let you know.
A word about the weather; it gets cold in Illinois. Real cold. The other day while you were basking in 80 degree temperatures in Cuba, we were freezing our butts off at 7 below. And if you’ve never spent a summer along the Mississippi River, I suggest you bring a lot of mosquito repellent and a fan. You have no idea what hell is like until you experience 95 degree days and 80% relative humidity.
So there’s that to look forward to also.
Thomson, IL: Things to do
From the official village website:
We have some of the finest watermelons and produce in the country.
Thomson is at the intersection of Illinois Route 84 and Argo Fay Road nestled along the mighty Mississippi River, where Potter’s Marsh (U.S. Corps of Engineers — Thomson Causeway Public Use Area) offers some of the finest camping in Northwestern Illinois. Thomson is also known for some of the finest duck hunting, deer hunting and turkey hunting in the state of Illinois. Fishing is great!! We have a wide variety of fish on the mighty Mississippi River, Huge Catfish, Walleye, Bass, Northern Pike, Bluegills and the list goes on and on.
If you are planning on a quiet vacation or want to do some camping, come and see what Thomson has to offer. Thomson is also the site of the Illinois Department of Corrections newest maximum security prison — a $145 million facility which remains unopened.
Now, doesn’t that sound inviting? Love watermelons, and I’m sure you will too. In fact, our town nickname is “Melon Capitol of the World.” They are especially valuable for hollowing out and hiding guns, bombs, and knives. They are also an excellent way to hide messages to your friends, relatives, and fellow terrorists overseas.
And while it is legal to hunt ducks, deer, and turkey, we draw the line at shooting infidels. I realize that you find this outdoor activity good sport, but we don’t have a lot to spare (our population is only around 500) so we’ve placed them on your “endangered species” list.
Finally, if you are going to fish, please refrain from using dynamite.
Thomson Correctional Center
As the town website notes, you will be staying at our brand new, luxury correctional facility. And let me tell you, it was hard work getting that thing built. First, we had to find a way to pad the budget a little. The state originally gave us $95 million to do the job, but that simply wasn’t enough.
I’m sure you understand the concept of baksheesh. Well let me tell you, if you are going to stay in Illinois for any length of time, you will eventually acknowledge that you guys are pikers when it comes to laying out the baksheesh compared to our politicians here. You may have invented the concept, but our politicians have it down to a science. Thus, it wouldn’t surprise you to learn that the original $95 million quickly ballooned to $145 million when a former governor decided to add about 600 beds to the facility.
Big surprise, huh?
Completed in late 2001 (six months behind schedule), we were supposed to open in early 2002. But, as these things happen in Illinois, the state legislature “forgot” to include $13 million in initial operating costs for our little corner of heaven. And then the governor at that time (now comfortably ensconced in a similar prison facility up the road in Wisconsin) decided he needed to save the taxpayer some money so he refused to authorize any funds for running your new home.
Time passed. And then more time passed. Finally, four years later, someone in Springfield woke up to the fact that there was this $145 million dollar white elephant sitting in the middle of the prairie that was supposed to house a thousand prisoners but was standing empty. And while this is usually no big deal in Illinois, as luck would have it, the press somehow discovered the TCF (which really is in a remote location, smack dab in the middle of nowheresville) and began to ask uncomfortable questions about why this monument to government stupidity was lying fallow while they were sleeping on top of each other at the Pontiac Correctional Center down the road.
Thus, in 2006, another governor (this one headed to jail but not quite there yet) authorized 200 prisoners be moved to the minimum security wing of your new home. These guys will be your new neighbors, and you are expected to be nice to them. No loud praying, wild jihadi parties, or accidental explosions will be tolerated.
We’ve tried to make things homey for you, but the feds may have some other ideas:
Security at the facility also must be upgraded. The property currently is enclosed by a 12-foot exterior fence. There also is a 15-foot interior fence with a dual-sided electric stun fence.
No giggling, please. We’re serious about this — really.
Federal officials want to lock it down even further.
“It would add additional upgrades to those,” a senior White House official told reporters Tuesday.
I understand they want to change the locks and perhaps maybe put bars on the windows, but those kind of extra security measures are standard for American prisons. We want to establish a bond of trust with all of our inmates and will try to make your stay here — whether it will be a few months or otherwise — as pleasant and comfortable as possible.
A word about riots. If you are going to riot, the cafeteria and gym are off limits. Do you have any idea how much new place settings would cost us? And forget about trying to replace the basketball backboards. If I told you how much baksheesh that cost us, you’d understand why we have to put our foot down about setting fire to the gym.
I understand that prison life can be pretty boring what with few (if any) opportunities to ply your chosen trade. Suicide bombings are almost unheard of in Thomson, although a couple of kids nearly blew themselves up last 4th of July by setting off a bomb they made in the high school chemistry lab. And the fun kind of mayhem you may be used to initiating back in your own countries just doesn’t play well here. We are quiet, God-fearing folk whose idea of a good time is renting a tandem bike from Arnold’s Bike & Embroidery for a relaxing ride down the river.
I have to tell you we’re pretty serious about this whole escape business. Sure, we’re happy you’re here what with all the federal cash that will be spread around. But the fact is, we draw the line at foreigners walking around town unsupervised. So just to be on the safe side (most of our residents are armed and know how to use guns), we strongly suggest you refrain from making any escape attempts while you’re here.
And we insist that if you absolutely feel the need to leave, that you wait until you get into Iowa before causing any real damage. Our governor is already in enough trouble with state legislators over this and can’t afford any embarrassing rampages until after the election next year.
Our president is already on the hook for making this move and it sure wouldn’t do his political cred any good if any of you showed him up by offing a few unbelievers. So I would suggest you cooperate with the prison authorities and serve out your time by enjoying your stay in our fair state.
If you do happen to make a run for it, might I suggest taking a few minutes and stopping by to see the famous two-story outhouse in Gays, IL? You won’t be disappointed.