A Sheriff in Tennessee called Homeland Security on a journalist for attempting to obtain public records about the treatment of prisoners at a local jail.
“Alex Friedmann, editor for the Prison Legal News, has been working on a piece about complaints coming out of the (Marshall County) jail. He’s now suing Sheriff Normal Dalton for refusing to release public records of alleged questionable practices in the prison system,” reports WSMV.com.
After Sheriff Dalton refused to provide Friedmann with records pertaining to medical care and other services for inmates, he paid him a home visit, ordered background checks, and even called the Department of Homeland Security in an effort to get federal agents to harass Friedmann.
Dalton’s attorney claimed that the Sheriff had the right to take such action in order to protect the jail and ensure that Friedmann was a resident of Tennessee, while also asserting that Friedmann’s attempt to obtain the records in person invalidated the request.
“I think that’s very alarming and very disturbing that a law enforcement officer can do a background check, and in this case actually drove in to check my residence in person just because I filed a public records request with his agency,” Friedmann said.
Bail bondsman Mike Farrar claimed that the refusal to provide records was part of a cover-up centered around the fact that prisoners are only fed twice a day and that the Sheriff’s department is financially profiting as a result.
The judge in the case has taken the decision under advisement and is expected to rule in the next few days.
The story highlights how the Department of Homeland Security is being leveraged as a tool of intimidation against Americans who are simply trying to uncover official misconduct.