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Sheriff calls Homeland Security after magazine editor asks for public prison records

June 7, 2014

  Alex Friedmann is the editor of ‘Prison Legal News‘ and he is–or was–investigating allegations of abuse at a local jail. As part of his investigation he requested public records about jailing practices. 

  Not only was he denied access to these public records but, according to this article, he actually became the target of the local sheriff, Normal Dalton, who harassed him and reported him to Homeland Security.

An editor for Prison Legal News has sued the sheriff’s department in Marshall County, Tenn. (pop. 30,883) because the sheriff refused to comply with a request for public records about practices at the local jail.

In addition to refusing to comply with the records request, the sheriff, Normal Dalton, ordered a background check on the editor, paid a visit to his home and contacted the Department of Homeland Security.

Friedmann claims that Dalton and his department snubbed the records request – and spied on him, and contacted a federal agency charged with preventing terrorism – to cover up misconduct.

“The Marshall County Sheriff’s office apparently doesn’t feel it has to comply with the law,” the inmate advocate told the NBC affiliate.

“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,” he added.

  Sheriff Dalton’s attorney defended his actions thusly:

William Haywood, an attorney representing the rural sheriff, said Dalton had his reasons for spying on Friedmann and contacting federal agents.

“Like the sheriff said on the witness stand, if he is not personally familiar with the person requesting or knows that they are a resident, then he has a right – he has an obligation under the statute – to make sure they are a resident of the state of Tennessee,” Haywood told the station.

  Okay, that might be true but why does verifying residency involve contacting Homeland Security? That makes no sense to me whatsoever!

  This could simply be, and in fact probably is, the rash action of a man seeking revenge on a person who dared to question what was going on in the prison system, a rogue agent in the field as Barack Obama would likely call him, but we have to stay vigilant to ensure this does not become a trend when people question authority.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. June 7, 2014 1:44 pm

    Reblogged this on theThumpHouse.


  2. June 7, 2014 1:46 pm

    Reblogged this on BLOGGING BAD w/Gunny G! ~ (Attn: "CLINGERS").


  3. June 7, 2014 1:46 pm



  4. Petermc3 permalink
    June 7, 2014 2:14 pm

    This sheriff may have inadvertently put himself on Hillary’s shortlist for Homeland Drone Co-ordinator in 2017. Achtung! Seig Hiel!


  5. Laura Bernard Mielcarek permalink
    June 7, 2014 7:51 pm

    Question – and I realize that I can probably find the answer to my question in the source article….I’m just feeling too darn lazy to do that right now. PLUS, it’s much more pleasant to interact with all y’all on the blog. Ok, so, question – does a person have to reside in the state in which he is requesting copies of public records? Is it actually a duty of the sheriff to ensure the residency status of the person requesting the records? It ‘sounds’ like utter BS to me.


    • June 7, 2014 8:04 pm

      It sounds like BS to me, if this is public information what difference does it make whether the person requesting the records is a resident of the state or not?


  6. June 7, 2014 8:49 pm

    Rogue? sure, not a doubt!


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