A longtime prison reform advocate accused of preparing to stage an escape at a Tennessee jail that's under construction had a builder create a concrete room in his condominium's basement so he could learn how to break into the walls, authorities say. The room built in a storage area was discovered in March after investigators obtained a search warrant for Alexander Friedmann's condo in Nashville, according to a federal complaint filed Tuesday. The former convict turned crusader against private prisons was a longtime editor at Prison Legal News until his arrest in January on charges of attempted burglary and vandalism: Federal prosecutors said security video showed him gaining access to the new jail on at least 10 occasions, sometimes accompanied by an accomplice who acted as a lookout.
They accuse him of dressing as a construction worker, stealing keys, and covering guns and other weapons with a material after placing them inside the jail's block walls and window areas, reports the AP. "It was discovered that Mr. Friedmann, over many months, had developed and implemented an extremely deliberate and, in my opinion, evil plan," Nashville Sheriff Daron Hall said in February. Hall said he believes Friedmann was designing a massive jailbreak. The Tennessean reports authorities said the basement room used materials similar to that of the new jail, and was constructed by Friedmann’s builder friend, who thought it was going to be used to store legal documents. The builder says he also showed Friedmann how to drill into and cut concrete blocks, which Friedmann said needed to happen to facilitate the installation of a water filtration device.
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