Last month, a group of two dozen prominent doctors and groups such as the Drug Policy Alliance started a legal campaign for Cameron Douglas, son of Michael Douglas. Cameron Douglas had his prison term nearly doubled in January 2010 when heroin and Suboxone® were found in his cell. His initial sentence was 5 years for possession of methamphetamine and has since been extended four and a half years.
According to the Drug Policy Alliance, most inmates face loss of prison privileges when caught with drugs and Douglas’ sentence is one of the harshest ever given by Federal Judge for drug possession in prison to date. The legal campaign to appeal Douglas’ charge is an attempt to voice that addiction should be met with drug treatment rather than prison time and to highlight the Drug Policy Alliance’s stance that “the federal corrections systems, in particular, but corrections in general have for a long time ignored the treatment need of their inmates.” And Douglas expressed his needs wholeheartedly by pleading to the Federal Judge that he was just trying to feel “normal.” According to the New York Daily News, Douglas stated “You see, your honor, I cannot seem to find comfort in my own skin…I feel ashamed. I feel defeated.”
The campaign for Douglas comes at a time when Hollywood has been more vocal than ever in advocating for treatment over imprisonment. Hollywood celebrities like Matthew Perry and Martin Sheen advocate for NADCP (National Association of Drug Court Professionals) by showing that drug courts work. While nearly 80% of inmates with addiction problems don’t receive treatment, the evidence based practices of drug courts indicate that those in drug court are six times more likely to stay in treatment long enough for them to get better. Both the NADCP and those advocating for Douglas believe, as Martin Sheen says, “when a court orders an addict to treatment instead of prison we all rise.” Hopefully their voice and advocacy will allow more addicts who don’t feel “comfort in their own skin” the option of effective drug treatment over prison.