Man arrested for plotting prison escape in 'most significant breach in Nashville history'

Alex Woodward
Nashville Metro Police Department

A longtime criminal justice advocate in Tennessee has been accused of stashing guns to mount a "massive escape" at a local jail, according to police.

Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall alleges that Alex Friedmann was hiding guns and other tools, along with ammunition, in a planned detention centre while it was under construction.

Police found three loaded guns and other tools at the site. Sheriff Hall called Mr Friedmann's alleged break-in "the most significant breach in Nashville history" an "evil" act that would endanger the lives of law enforcement officers.

Mr Friedmann was charged with felony vandalism stemming from a January arrest for sneaking into the facility with a cooler full of bolt cutters and other tools. He's being held on a $2.5m bond at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, according to sheriff's records.

He was arrested in January and charged with attempted burglary and evidence tampering.

Mr Friedmann was sentenced to 10 years in prison following an assault charge and has spent the last 20 years following his release in 1999 as an advocate for criminal justice reform, writing for legal journals, testifying to Congress and editing Prison Legal News, the monthly publication from the Human Rights Defense Center.

Nashville Metro Police say that Mr Friedmann and others disguised themselves as contruction workers at the unfinished Downtown Detention Center to hide loaded guns and ammunition inside.

Police say that he tried to destroy a copy of the building's schematics by ripping it up and eating it after his arrest.