Fox News reported that a former consultant for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign was arrested for allegedly planting loaded weapons and ammunition inside a Tennessee corrections facility.
This plot was apparently hatched to break inmates out of the jail, according to authorities.
Criminal justice reform advocate Alex Friedmann, who was not a prisoner but allegedly was trying to help inmates break out when the facility opened, was arrested on February 18, 2020 on one count of felony vandalism.
However, Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall said at a press conference on February 19, 2020 that the allegations are much larger
The Nashville detention center was supposed to be opened on April 2020 but was postponed after the man was arrested, according to the Tennessean.
“Throughout the last several weeks it was discovered that Mr. Friedmann, over many months, had developed and implemented an extremely deliberate – and in my opinion evil – plan,” Hall said at the press conference, which the local NBC affiliate WSMV broadcasted. “Understand, this plan went far beyond vandalism. Ultimately it included planting various tools, weapons, security equipment throughout this facility. All designed to assist in a massive escape plan.”
Hall proceeded to describe how the weapons involved in the case were loaded guns and ammunition.
“What disturbed me most is not that this was about an escape,” he stated. “It was also about loss of life.”
Friedmann worked with the 2016 presidential campaign of Vermont Senators Bernie Sanders as a consultant advising him on criminal justice issues. His advice played a role in Sanders’s decision to introduce a bill that would undermine private prisons. Back in 2015, Friedmann told The Atlantic the bill did not go far enough to get rid of private prisons.
“It appears to be more for political purposes than to actually address the many problems in our criminal justice system,” Friedmann said.
Sheriff Hall revealed that the arrest came following an investigation of another case involving Friedmann, who was arrested in January for attempted burglary charges. He was allegedly masquerading as a construction worker to enter another detention center on multiple occasions, stealing keys, and making an outline of the center’s layout. The detention center was still under construction at the time.
According to a press release from the sheriff’s office, corrections officials noticed on December 30, 2019 that two keys were missing. They reviewed surveillance footage and caught someone disguised as a construction worker who matched Friedmann’s description stealing a key ring, then coming back and replacing it. Two keys still ended up missing.
Friedmann, previously the associate director of the Human Rights Defense Center and managing editor of its Prison Legal News publication, was out on bail after he posted a $2,500 bond.
Friedmann’s attorney Ben Raybin told Fox News that it was “important to clarify that the new vandalism charge stems from alleged conduct arising last year, and not any recent actions occurring after his previous arrest.” He noted that the keys were returned to the sheriff’s office and that Friedmann has cooperated with authorities without any problems.
“Mr. Friedmann surrendered himself immediately after being advised of the new charge,” Raybin commented.
Friedmann is currently in custody on a $2.5 million bail bond. His will appear in court on February 26, with an April 6 court date set for his previous arrest case.
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Greg Abbott Signs Executive Order Keeping Violent Criminals from Going Back on the Streets During the Wuhan Crisis
After the Wuhan Virus was confirmed in several Texas jails in the last week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order on March 29, 2020 that makes it more difficult for several inmates to be let out on “no-cost, personal recognizance bonds.”
Abbott tweeted, “Today I issued an Executive Order preventing [email protected] of dangerous criminals from prisons & jails. We want to prevent the spread of #COVID19 among prison staff & inmates. But, releasing dangerous criminals in the streets is not the solution. #txlege #coronavirus”
Today I issued an Executive Order preventing [email protected] of dangerous criminals from prisons & jails.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) March 30, 2020
Several cases of the Wuhan Virus were discovered in the Dallas County Jail and Harris County Jail last week, two of the state’s largest jails. In addition, a handful of cases were confirmed in state prisons. According to NBC DFW, the virus’ outbreak was “followed by demands to reduce the inmate populations by releasing, immediately and without bond or judicial delay, those held on misdemeanor crimes or awaiting trial on misdemeanor crimes. Some also called for non-violent felons to also be released on no-cost bonds.”
Abbott said Sunday that “releasing dangerous criminals makes the state even less safe” and issued a proclamation to prevent judges, and others, from releasing some inmates without a paid, cash bond.
In his executive order, Abbott declared that a person convicted of a crime that involved or threatened physical violence, or a person arrested for such a crime backed by probable cause, or a person with a criminal history of violent crime, cannot get out of jail on a no-cost personal recognizance bond.
With a PR bond, a defendant is released without having to post any money for his or her bond on the promise they’ll show up to their next court date.
Instead of virtue signaling and buying into the criminal justice reform movement’s desire to foment anarcho-tyranny, Abbott has held his ground by promoting public order.
A crisis like the Wuhan Virus pandemic does not need to be exacerbated by opening up the prison floodgates.
This is one case where American policymakers should use logic not emotion to craft prison policies in times of a pandemic.
Failure to do so will put the U.S. on the road to institutional failure.
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