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Small Illinois town willing to be next Guantanamo

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The refrain from federal officials focused on the local benefits.

Of the 850 to 900 staff positions at the prison, 60 percent will be local, said Harley Lappin, director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Mr. Lappin added that he estimates 1,200 to 1,700 private-sector jobs will be created as a result of prison activity – "all indirect ways the prison will create jobs and reduce unemployment."

In January, a state commission approved closing the facility; now appraisals will be made to negotiate a price, says Marlena Jentz, spokeswoman for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D).

Aside from that, congressional approval is needed to transfer the prisoners to US soil.

Jay Alan Liotta, principal director of the Defense Department's office of detainee policy, said the 198 Guantánamo prisoners will be either transferred to their home country, sent to stand trial in New York City, or selected for military tribunals here.

"No timeline has been set," Mr. Liotta said, for the prison's opening.

Once the sale is final, the prison will be fortified with a second perimeter, Lappin says. The prison would also house 1,600 federal inmates, but "there will be no contact between them and the detainees," he said. (Today, only about 144 minimum-­security prisoners are at the facility.)

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