WASHINGTON - The federal government will buy an Illinois prison that the Obama administration once considered as a successor to the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, US Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday.

Holder said the Thomson Correctional Center will house US inmates and that there are no plans to revive a 2009 effort to move some Guantanamo detainees to the United States.

Congress blocked funding for President Barack Obama's idea and tightly restricted all transfers from the camp at the Guantanamo Bay US naval base in eastern Cuba.

"I have committed that no Guantanamo detainees will be transferred to Thomson. As you know, any such transfer would violate express legal statutory prohibitions," Holder said in a letter to Representative Frank Wolf, who fought the proposal.

The prison, built for the state of Illinois but never fully occupied, is expected to hold up to 2,800 high-security inmates, relieving overcrowding in the sprawling federal system.

The $165 million price tag is less than the cost of building a similar prison, Holder said. The money will come from a fund of illegal assets forfeited to the government, not from the Federal Bureau of Prisons' regular budget controlled by Congress.

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