Should the Infamous Cameron Douglas Really be Behind Bars?

This week, Michael Douglas's incarcerated son Cameron testified at his alleged drug supplier's criminal trial. But does he even deserve to be behind bars?

This week Cameron Douglas, who is serving time in a federal prison for drug dealing, testified at his alleged drug supplier’s criminal trial.   Douglas, the son of academy award winning actor Michael Douglas and the grandson of legendary actor Kirk, sung like a bird about his relationship with accused drug dealer David Escalera.  Cameron became the people’s star witness against Escalera detailing how he sold drugs that was supplied by David’s brother Eduardo which was part of a bi-costal drug ring.  His testimony against the brothers was part of the plea deal that he made last year when his sentence was reduced from a mandatory 10 year sentence to 5 years.  In order to keep that plea deal, Douglas must now act like a puppet when the justice department pulls his strings.  If he doesn’t, that means they could revoke the deal and Cameron would be stuck with his original 10 year sentence. 

Last year, I sat in the court room in Manhattan and heard Cameron tell his tale to the Judge.  When I left that court room I realized that Douglas was a broken man done in by his addiction to drugs.  I had written several stories about Cameron supporting him and making the argument that he should not go to prison because of his addiction.  I got a lot of flak from individuals saying that Cameron Douglas was a spoiled and privileged individual and did not deserve a second or third chance.   But I disagreed then and still stick to my guns.  Non-violent drug offenders like Cameron do not deserve to go to prison but instead should have received drug treatment.  This would be a more effective and much more affordable solution for the individual and the community.  Douglas is now a product of the criminal justice system.  His back is against the wall now and he will lie and swear and say anything not to prolong his stay in prison -- even if he has to put his life in danger by becoming a stool pigeon.   I know that once you get this label, your life in prison becomes a living hell, compelling you to constantly watch your back. He has hit bottom and there is no lower to go in life where he can go.

So if Cameron manages to endure his imprisonment maybe he will come home and turn his life around.  I heard him say to his sentencing judge that he would like to educate kids about the dangers of drugs and use his story to prevent others from walking the road he has taken.  This all sounds good but, I heard something like this before when Paris Hilton felt the sting of incarceration.  She even was compelled to read the bible while in prison.  But when she got out all the good stuff she was going to do became a forgotten dream.  Hopefully, Cameron Douglas will survive his ordeal and have the opportunity to keep the memory of redemption he has now while he is living in hell.  Maybe then he will be able to reenter society as a productive citizen and use his experience to help others.

Anthony Papa, author of 15 To Life: How I Painted My Way To Freedom, is a communications specialist for the Drug Policy Alliance.
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