Alex Friedmann spent 10 years in prison cells – six of them at a Corrections Corporation of America prison in Tennessee – for armed robbery and attempted murder. “I was absolutely not cut out for a life of crime,” Friedmann, 39, tells the Tennessean. “And I was quite incompetent at it. I deserved the punishment. But punishment, technically, ends at some point. Society says it doesn’t, and that lasts for the rest of your life. It follows you around like a legacy.”
Now, Friedmann is engaged in a struggle against Nashville-based CCA, the nation’s largest for-profit prison company. He is a self-described underdog, battling the multibillion-dollar corporation that has drawn nationwide criticism for its treatment of prisoners. He didn’t like the way he was treated while he was incarcerated, and he has questioned whether CCA gave prompt medical attention to a friend who died while in CCA custody. CCA paints him as a less-than-credible advocate for prison reform and a pawn of unions that oppose privatized prisons like those run by CCA, which has 17,000 employees and holds more than 75,000 inmates. Friedmann is an unsalaried vice president of Private Corrections Institute, which is against the privatization of correctional institutions and is supported by unions. He is associate editor of Prison Legal News, working 60 hours a week reading and editing stories for the monthly publication.