Raiders of the Lost Pork, part 2

June 12, 2008 10:10:11 PM PDT
13 Undercover is back exposing more than a million of your tax dollars being wasted. Indiana Jones may hunt for treasure, but Eyewitness News is part of the "Raiders of the Lost Pork."

Until Wednesday night, Harris County taxpayers hadn't seen inside a sheriff's department facility for nearly a decade.

"I think it needs a good cleaning," said Art Storey, director of the Harris County Public Infrastructure Director. "I saw the Channel 13 in the dust. That's what generally occurs when a space goes unused for six years."

The space is the sheriff's department prisoner processing center that was built in the Harris County Criminal Courthouse but never used. Surveillance cameras watch holding cells that never housed drunks, just storage boxes.

"Yes the sheriff knows we have not used this as an inmate processing area," said Major Don McWilliams of the Harris County Sheriff's Office. "And he's not the only one."

There were explanations from the department like the place is too small.

"The size of the space has been known for a long time," Storey said. "The challenge to a department head is how can you best use the space allocated to you."

The sheriff's office also told us it was never a safe design security wise.

"I had no reason to feel there was a design inadequacy or any other inadequacy because normally users tell me," Storey told us.

In fact the place was redesigned to process female inmates in 2002.

"We were told by the people in charge of that function that was fine, they were ready to use it back in 2002," Storey said.

We can all see that didn't happen, but now that voters have turned down an expensive new processing center, the sheriff's office is finally going to dust off this unused space. This time they said they really mean it.

"As soon as this is reapproved by the jail commission they plan to occupy the space," Storey said.

The "Raiders of the Lost Pork" will be watching.

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