FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Ordeal of Cameron Douglas

by ANTHONY PAPA

Cameron Douglas, the son of Academy Award winner Michael Douglas who is serving a five-year sentence for drug dealing, was just sentenced to an additional four and a half years in prison. Judge Richard Berman, who has to be one of the most clueless justices in the federal system, whacked Cameron with additional time for what is essentially Cameron’s very bad drug habit. The judge in his legal reasoning said: “I don’t believe that I have had another case ever…of a defendant who has so recklessly, and flagrantly, and wantonly and criminally acted in as destructive and manipulative a fashion.” I hear you judge, but I guess you don’t know what drug relapse is about.

What good is it to serve an admitted addict with additional time in prison which is costing the taxpayer a ton of dough to make a point? We know Cameron is a fuck up. It’s apparent after all the blundering and idiotic bad moves he has made. But in reality, is an additional four and a half years — two and a half more than the government sought to punish Cameron for his crime of addiction — worth it? Substance abuse is a disease, which unfortunately doesn’t go away overnight. I know that Douglas pissed off the judge but Berman should realize that our drug policies fail to account for the fact that drug use is a health issue and that relapse is an expected part of the recovery process.

In my experience doing a 12-year sentence for a nonviolent drug law violation, I witnessed hundreds of drug addicted people cycle in and out of the prison I was in. It’s well established that incarcerating people who use drugs does far more harm than good. It does nothing to treat addiction, it’s much more expensive than real treatment, and it’s an affront to human rights and civil liberties.

Unfortunately our government continues to lock up people with drug addictions instead of giving them treatment. Treatment is valid for fighting the demons of addiction and an effective tool in overcoming the government’s use of incarceration and punitive measures in response to nonviolent drug law offenses stemming from addiction.

At the recent U.S. Conference of Mayors’ annual meeting in Baltimore, it was pointed out that the U.S. has by far the highest incarceration rate in the world. It has 2.4 million of its residents in prison or jail, including roughly 500,000 Americans behind bars for drug law violations — an increase of 1200 percent since 1980. Criminal justice experts attribute the exploding U.S. prison population to harsh sentencing laws and record numbers of drug law offenders, many of whom have substance abuse problems.

And my repetitive motif is this question. Should we treat drug addiction as a criminal matter or a medical problem? For most people, treatment is much more effective than incarceration for breaking their addictions, yet our prisons are full of drug-addicted individuals. Nonviolent drug offenders should be given an opportunity to receive treatment, not jail time, for their drug use. This would be a more effective and a much more affordable solution for the individual and the community.

I am saddened that Cameron has to learn the hard way about his addiction. I feel sorry for him and his family and pray that he survives his prison experience. Prison is a horrible place and until he accepts responsibility for his actions, Douglas will forever be a prisoner to his drug addiction.

ANTHONY PAPA is the author of 15 Years to Life: How I Painted My Way to Freedom and manager of media relation for the Drug Policy Alliance. He can be reached at: anthonypapa123@yahoo.com 

Anthony Papa is the Manager of Media and Artist Relations for the Drug Policy Alliance and the author of This Side of Freedom: Life After Lockdown.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Rogue Elephant Rising: The CIA as Kingslayer
Matthew Stevenson
Is Trump the Worst President Ever?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Flynn?
John Wight
Brexit and Trump: Why Right is Not the New Left
Diana Johnstone
France: Another Ghastly Presidential Election Campaign; the Deep State Rises to the Surface
Neve Gordon
Trump’s One-State Option
Roger Harris
Emperor Trump Has No Clothes: Time to Organize!
Joan Roelofs
What Else is Wrong with Globalization
Andrew Levine
Why Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban?
Mike Whitney
Blood in the Water: the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper
Vijay Prashad
Trump, Turmoil and Resistance
Ron Jacobs
U.S. Imperial War Personified
David Swanson
Can the Climate Survive Adherence to War and Partisanship?
Andre Vltchek
Governor of Jakarta: Get Re-elected or Die!
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Destruction of Mosul
Norman Pollack
Self-Devouring Reaction: Governmental Impasse
Steve Horn
What Do a Louisiana Pipeline Explosion and Dakota Access Pipeline Have in Common? Phillips 66
Brian Saady
Why Corporations are Too Big to Jail in the Drug War
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Peaceful Protest to Armed Uprising
Luke Meyer
The Case of Tony: Inside a Lifer Hearing
Binoy Kampmark
Adolf, The Donald and History
Robert Koehler
The Great American Awakening
Murray Dobbin
Canadians at Odds With Their Government on Israel
Fariborz Saremi
A Whole New World?
Joyce Nelson
Japan’s Abe, Trump & Illegal Leaks
Christopher Brauchli
Trump 1, Tillerson 0
Yves Engler
Is This Hate Speech?
Dan Bacher
Trump Administration Exempts Three CA Oil Fields From Water Protection Rule at Jerry Brown’s Request
Richard Klin
Solid Gold
Melissa Garriga
Anti-Abortion and Anti-Fascist Movements: More in Common Than Meets the Eye
Thomas Knapp
The Absurd Consequences of a “Right to Privacy”
W. T. Whitney
The Fate of Prisoner Simón Trinidad, as Seen by His U. S. Lawyer
Brian Platt
Don’t Just Oppose ICE Raids, Tear Down the Whole Racist Immigration Enforcement Regime
Paul Cantor
Refugee: the Compassionate Mind of Egon Schwartz
Norman Richmond
The Black Radical Tradition in Canada
Barton Kunstler
Rallying Against the Totalitarian Specter
Judith Deutsch
Militarism:  Revolutionary Mothering and Rosie the Riveter
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir Evoked a Lot More International Attention in the 1950s Than It Does Now
Adam Phillips
There Isn’t Any There There
Louis Proyect
Steinbeck’s Red Devils
Randy Shields
Left Coast Date: the Dating Site for the ORWACA Tribe
Charles R. Larson
Review: Bill Hayes’ “Insomniac City”
David Yearsley
White Supremacy and Music Theory
February 16, 2017
Peter Gaffney
The Rage of Caliban: Identity Politics, the Travel Ban, and the Shifting Ideological Framework of the Resistance
Ramzy Baroud
Farewell to Doublespeak: Israel’s Terrifying Vision for the Future
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail