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
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Pauline Murphy
Unburied Truth: Exposing the Church’s Iron Chains on Ireland
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Franklin Lamb
Update from Madaya
Dan Bacher
Federal Scientists Find Delta Tunnels Plan Will Devastate Salmon
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Louis Proyect
What Caused the Holodomor?
Max Mastellone
Seeking Left Unity Through a Definition of Progressivism
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
David Yearsley
Ear of Darkness: the Soundtracks of Steve Bannon’s Films
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail