NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The man accused of sneaking in and hiding weapons during the construction of the new Davidson County Jail is now upset about his living conditions behind bars.
Alex Friedmann is suing the Tennessee Department of Correction in federal court, claiming to be unfairly locked up with dangerous convicted felons in a supermax cell. Friedmann is not housed in the Davidson County jail, the scene of his alleged crimes. Instead, he's locked up at Riverbend Maximum Security Prison awaiting trial.
"Mr. Friedmann, over many months, had developed and implemented an extremely deliberated and in my opinion evil plan," said Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall last year when talking about Friedmann after his arrest. "What disturbed me most is not that this was about an escape -- it was all about loss of life."
Friedmann is accused of sneaking into the new jail while under construction to plant guns and ammunition inside the facility - weapons the sheriff surmised inmates could use against guards.
The plot was foiled and Friedmann was arrested. It shocked the sheriff, who knew Friedmann as an advocate for prison or jail reform.
Friedmann's lawyer says his client believes that very advocacy has led to mistreatment. They have filed a federal lawsuit naming the Tennessee Department of Correction with violating his civil rights.
The suit says for the past 18 months, Friedmann has been in isolation and housed in a special "iron man" cell in the supermax unit at Riverbend. The suit argues Friedmann is innocent until proven guilty and yet he is kept in extremely restrictive, punitive and harsher than conditions of maximum security death row inmates.
Friedmann, who is charged with vandalism of the jail - a nonviolent offense - is held with convicted killers and rapists. He told the Associated Press he believes he's being punished for his many years of prison reform advocacy.
He's suing for damages and to be moved to better living conditions.
TDOC could not be reached for comment, but the agency typically does not comment on pending litigation.