I guess we now know why some people advocate so vociferously for abolishing incarceration in America.
Alex Friedmann, 50, a longtime advocate of reducing criminal penalties, was arrested on Saturday for attempted burglary of the Nashville Downtown Detention Center. He was also charged with evidence tampering and possessing burglary tools.
Friedmann, the managing editor of the anti-incarceration Prison Legal News, was caught on surveillance camera at the detention center entering while posing as a construction worker and spray-painting around the key control room door, according to the Davidson County sheriff’s office.
Fox17 reports that when sheriff’s deputies apprehended Friedmann, he was holding “an Igloo cooler containing bolt cutters, a key chit, and a DDC schematics document.” He also tried to destroy the document as evidence. According to the sheriff’s office, surveillance camera footage shows that he had entered the facility disguised as a construction worker three other times in the last week of December.
Well, I guess that is one way to pursue criminal justice “reform.”
Friedmann served six years in Tennessee prison for attempted murder, armed robbery, and attempted aggravated robbery. That’s certainly not a lot of time for such serious offenses, but ever since his release, he has been a vocal critic of incarceration. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad, but Friedmann’s recent actions demonstrate the problem with so many violent offenders – that they never rid themselves of the criminal mentality. If anything, Friedmann himself is a living example of the need for longer sentences and stronger deterrent, even as he advocates for jailbreak.
One might think Friedmann is some radical left-wing voice that would only resonate in places like San Francisco and New York, but Governor Bill Lee in Tennessee is drinking out of his watercooler. He is using the same buzzwords as those who pushed the disastrous bill in New York – promoting more parole and “community supervision” for so-called low-level offenders. This is absurd because as it is, even high-level offenders often get off easy in Tennessee. Yet Lee’s “Criminal Justice Reform Task Force” is not designed to focus on the needs of victims but of criminals. Nothing in his plan focuses on ensuring that repeat violent offenders are locked up.
Friedmann, for his part, posted bail and has been released. But he’s not the only jailbreak advocate who has tried out the system firsthand.
Yesterday, the New York Daily News reported that Orlando Dennis, whose wife is chief of staff to state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, was arrested for allegedly orchestrating a cocaine shipment at Kennedy airport. “This isn’t someone who had drugs in his stomach through desperation. This is someone who was organizing hundreds of thousands of dollars of cocaine,” assistant U.S. attorney Jonathan Siegel said.
State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie was one of the lead figures in passing the New York bill to abolish bail. Last year, when the General Assembly voted to decriminalize marijuana, Heastie complained, “The drug laws that are currently on the books have devastated our communities by disproportionately targeting people of color, forcing them to live with a criminal record that makes it harder to get a job or find housing.” Well, he’s right – drugs have devastated black communities, particularly cocaine. They have destroyed countless lives and have increased the homelessness problem. I guess his top aide now has firsthand experience.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.