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Alleged jail break plot will change how jails are built moving forward

Costs related to the case head upward of $2-million
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Posted at 2:42 PM, Feb 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-20 20:35:31-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF)  — The construction company behind the new metro jail in downtown Nashville has released a statement after a group was able to hide guns and ammunition in the facility by posing as construction workers.

According to Sheriff Daron Hall, criminal justice advocate Alex Friedmann was disguised as a construction worker when he made entry to the facility. He's behind bars accused of hiding the weapons in the Metro Jail. Right now the search is still on for 3 suspected accomplices.

As police turn their attention to their capture, many are wondering how did this happen?

A spokesperson for Bell and Associates Construction called the breach 'domestic terrorism' and unprecedented. President Keith Pyle issued a statement:

“We have a long history of building justice facilities across our state, and we work diligently to ensure we have the most comprehensive safety measures in place at all times. We follow strict safety protocols on all our jobsites. Our workers undergo a thorough orientation before they begin work and have name and company identifiers on their hard hats at all times when they are onsite. Safety is our top priority, and we support the Sheriff’s Office in its efforts to ensure the Downtown Detention Center is secure for its staff and residents. Since this is an ongoing investigation, we cannot comment further.”

According to the contract between Metro Nashville and Bell Associates and Construction, it's the contractor's responsibility to secure the project site.

Sheriff Hall said Alex Friedmann obtained keys to the jail which his attorney said he returned. They had to switch out all the locks which cost approximately $361,000. To store video related to the court case will cost approximately $360,000. According to the sheriff's office, they are uncertain of the costs associated with hiring a company, or bringing in equipment to sweep the building. The female inmates temporarily housed at a CoreCivic facility will continue to be $500,000 per month and the cost of paying employees will continue to mount. The sheriff's office puts the price tag near $2-million, and it will likely grow.

Which raises the question: are taxpayers on the hook to pay for that? Or will Metro go after the contractor to reimburse the city because of the security breach?

Metro's Law Director Bob Cooper said in an email that Metro will explore all possible sources of funding for needed repairs. He added this is a developing situation.

Sheriff Hall and President Pyle agree that what happened will change the way jails are built in the future.

Hall said, "This has never been done anywhere. I've had people contact me from all over the country with surface knowledge of what's going on, it will forever change how correctional facilities are built."

Bell and Associates Construction has built several jails and law enforcement buildings in the area. Some of them include the Rutherford County Judicial Center, the Montgomery County Judicial Center, and the Murfreesboro Police Headquarters. They also had a hand in building the Batman building and the Music City Center.