Ex-con arrested for hiding guns, escape devices in new Nashville jail efforted prison reform

Local News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — He was arrested in December for allegedly burglarizing and tampering with the new Downtown detention center, but now the Davidson County Sheriff says he may have done much more than that.

Alex Friedmann is now accused of hiding guns and ‘escape devices’ in the walls of the jail as it was under construction.

The sheriff says it’s shocking to anyone building a detention center across the country, but it’s especially shocking, he says, because Friedmann was an advocate and consultant they trusted.

“Mr. Friedmann served time and has spent a long time advocating for safe jails and prisons,” Sheriff Daron Hall said in a news conference Wednesday.

Friedmann is known in Tennessee as an advocate for prisoner rights.

He was last seen on News 2 in July, calling for change after an uptick in murders inside Civic Core prisons.

Friedmann is no stranger to life behind bars.

He was sentenced to 10 years for assault with intent to murder and armed robbery back in 1991.

Charges included aggravated assault, possession of a weapon, and larceny.

A profile article by Vice News states he got out on parole in 1999.

Until his arrest in December, Friedmann was the associate director for a prison watch group called Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC).

Under that role, he was also the managing editor for ‘Prison Legal News.’

A review of the HRDC’s 2015 report shows Friedmann also consulted with U.S. Senator Bernie Sander’s office on a bill to ban private prisons.

The report states: “Friedmann participated in multiple conference calls with the senator’s staff and suggested the name that was eventually used for the bill, the ‘Justice is Not for Sale Act.'”

Sheriff Hall said Friedmann was a long-time consultant for them as well, but never regarding the new facility.

“He met with me and others in my team over the last year in my office, not in this building,” he said, “This building never came up. this was never part of our intent or what we were dealing with him on.”

Friedmann is held at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution on a $2.5 million dollar bond.

He’s set to appear in court in April.

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