by Steven Hale
Veteran Scene readers will recognize the face in the video above. It's Alex Friedmann, explaining the reason for his visit to Capitol Hill yesterday. A former prisoner in a facility owned by Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America, serving time for armed robbery and attempted murder, Friedmann has been a thorn in the side of the prison industrial complex since his release in 1999.
Now the editor of Prison Legal News, Friedmann came to the legislature yesterday and offered lawmakers the chance to take a piss test right then and there. As he explained to TNReport's Mark Engler, among the legislators Friedmann visited were those sponsoring a bill that would require suspicion-based drug testing for welfare applicants.
The Senate passed the bill yesterday and it should come up for a vote in the House today.
According to Friedmann, the bill's House sponsor, Rep. Julia Hurley, refused to speak to him and had her office call the authorities to get him out of her office. Hurley told Engler only that she didn't talk to Friedmann. When he paid a visit to the bill's Senate sponsor, Stacey Campfield, Friedmann says Campfield agreed to take a test with conditions, which included payment of $50. That encounter is as yet unconfirmed.
While Friedmann describes his encounter with lawmakers in a mild manner, some legislative staffers have described his visits as rude — a characterization that is not all that surprising when you consider that they were met with a stranger requesting urine samples.
Presented with an amendment to the bill last week, which would have added a drug testing requirement for lawmakers, Hurley flatly refused.