Michael Douglas' son speaks out from behind bars
Cameron Douglas is speaking out against what he considers our country's antiquated drug laws. Fair point or sour grapes?
Michael Douglas' son is doing hard time, but the Hollywood wild child says his sentence isn't fair. Rather than being a typical case of a prisoner decrying what would to most be considered a just punishment, though, Cameron Douglas says putting non-violent offenders behind bars for a decade or more is actually hurting society rather than helping.
In an essay penned from the pen for the Huffington Post, Douglas says there are half a million people in prison for non-violent drug law offenses who are being punished more harshly than violent criminals.
"There are half a million other people in the U.S. who, like me, will go to sleep behind bars tonight because of nothing more than a drug law violation," Douglas wrote. "Our prisons are filled with non-violent drug offenders who are losing much of what is relevant in life. This outdated system pays little, if any, concern to the disease of addiction, and instead punishes it more harshly than many violent crimes. And even more exasperating is that many of the people responsible for this tragedy disregard documented medical research and the reality of our country's unsustainable prison overpopulation."
"I'm not saying that I didn't deserve to be punished, or that I'm worthy of special treatment. I made mistakes and I'll gladly and openly admit my faults. However, I seem to be trapped in a vicious cycle of relapse and repeat, as most addicts are. Unfortunately, whereas the effective remedy for relapse should be treatment, the penal system's 'answer' is to lock the door and throw away the key," Douglas continued. "Somehow, with the astronomical rate of recidivism, largely due to drug violations, no one seems to comprehend that tossing individuals desperate for skills to cope with addiction behind bars, no matter for how long a period of time, does absolutely nothing but temporarily deter them from succumbing to their weakness. Instead of focusing on how many individuals this county can keep imprisoned, why can we not focus on how many individuals we can keep from coming back?"
Cameron Douglas was arrested in 2009 after a huge bust by the DEA for large-scale narcotics distribution and sentenced to five years in prison. In 2011 he received an additional four-and-a-half years for obtaining drugs in prison for personal use. He lost his appeal and is expected to be released in 2018.