Crime and Punishment Criminal Justice War on Drugs

Cameron Douglas: Was 5 Years too Short?


On Tuesday, lawyers for 31-year old Cameron Douglas,
the son of actor Michael Douglas, cut a deal with federal prosecutors for charges that the younger Douglas had moved quite a bit of meth and some cocaine over a three year period, plus been caught with heroin when he was supposed to be under house arrest. Under federal sentencing guidelines, the minimum for a crime like his was 10 years in lock-up. Again, that’s the minimum. In a Federal District Court in Manhattan, Douglas got half that: a 5-year sentence.

The NY Times reports on the Douglas story. And here’s what the AP had to say.

So did his famous family help? Oh, sure. Of course. It is preposterous to think otherwise. More likely having a family who could afford a smart lawyer, and who also knew how to make a good emotional case in 37—count ’em—letters of support helped the most. There are a lot of federal judges who are sick to death of handing down monster sentences to people who are addicts looking to support their habit. Douglas appeared to be dealing in more quantity than that. But the letters explained that he was a poor little, famous parent-stunted, drug-addicted rich man/boy—yadda, yadda, yadda. Or whatever it was that Michael Douglas wrote. Gee," frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Officer Krupke and all that. And it’s likely true.

But the sentence wasn’t entirely out of line. Surely, the judge and prosecutors cut him something of a break. But he cooperated—translation, he snitched, or tried to snitch (It isn’t quite clear). Had he been poor and a gang member, he’d have done a lot more time. I know someone of about Douglas’s age who was sentenced earlier this year and fell into precisely all the same categories as Douglas—short the famous friends and family, and stellar opportunities growing up. (He got caught dealing for a duration of several years, but was no where near top of the pile, non-violent charges, cooperated with prosecutors, I mean, unlike Douglas, he named names.) But the guy I know is a former gang member from the projects and is doing 14 years federal time (and very relieved at that sentence. He knew it could have been a lot longer). So let’s not pretend that the goddess of criminal justice is blind to influence.

Still, speaking purely personally, it is hard for me to resent the five year, cut-down jolt as I can see no particular public good served by a longer sentence. Five years means that Cameron Douglas has a chance at making a life for himself, becoming a productive tax payer and a decent man. Let’s hope he takes it.

Are there lots of instances where others are at least as deserving of that chance?


Here’s one random example. There are many, many, many more,


  • He probably said this to the judge:

    “Well, I appreciate the opportunity you’re giving me, your honor, as the single largest shareholder in Teldar Paper, to speak.

    Well, ladies and gentlemen, we’re not here to indulge in fantasy, but in political and economic reality. America, America has become a second-rate power. Its trade deficit and its fiscal deficit are at nightmare proportions. Now, in the days of the free market, when our country was a top industrial power, there was accountability to the stockholder. The Carnegies, the Mellons, the men that built this great industrial empire, made sure of it because it was their money at stake. Today, management has no stake in the company!

    All together, these men sitting up here own less than 3 percent of the company. And where does Mr. Cromwell put his million-dollar salary? Not in Teldar stock; he owns less than 1 percent.

    You own the company. That’s right — you, the stockholder.

    And you are all being royally screwed over by these, these bureaucrats, with their steak lunches, their hunting and fishing trips, their corporate jets and golden parachutes.

    Teldar Paper, Mr. Cromwell, Teldar Paper has 33 different vice presidents, each earning over 200 thousand dollars a year. Now, I have spent the last two months analyzing what all these guys do, and I still can’t figure it out. One thing I do know is that our paper company lost 110 million dollars last year, and I’ll bet that half of that was spent in all the paperwork going back and forth between all these vice presidents.

    The new law of evolution in corporate America seems to be survival of the unfittest. Well, in my book you either do it right or you get eliminated. In the last seven deals that I’ve been involved with, there were 2.5 million stockholders who have made a pretax profit of 12 billion dollars. (applause) Thank you.

    I am not a destroyer of companies. I am a liberator of them!

    The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed — for lack of a better word — is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms — greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge — has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed — you mark my words — will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.

    Thank you very much.”

  • …and O.J. bought himself out of a murder conviction, and Jack Abbott got sprung with the help of Norman Mailer to kill again. The Abbott case is so absurd and shows how the elitist assholes are not only listened to way more than they should be but are played by cons like a fiddle.

    In 1971 Abbott has about 36 years to go on his sentence after an escape and murdering another inmate. In 1981 he’s released thanks to Mailer and I think Jerry Kozinski, hell even Susan Sarandon named her son after him. I mean he was a guy in jail who wrote a book, his crimes were no big deal, to these assholes he was the real victim.

    Six weeks, six whole weeks after being released he stabs a guy to death in a restaurant. Only good thing that happened was that he killed himself in prison, took him years to do it but for a psychopath like that, better late than never. Too bad Mumia hasn’t taken that route yet and he’s played Mike Farell and a whole slew of others the same way. I mean the city of Paris named a fucking street after him, a convicted cop killer. That’s just another good reason to hate the French.

    I had a friend who was on the team that worked protection for a certain rapper. He had to leave when he couldn’t handle the dope going through this guy and his crew along with the racism he saw constantly directed at anyone not black. Hollywood and the record industry are full of these types of people and they should never be given a break you wouldn’t give someone else, but they always expect one. Douglas in no different.

    Ah yes, celebrity and the help of their own kind and the star struck works wonders.

  • Everyone gets a legal defense. It’s just that some people can afford more and better lawyers.

    I also remember that poor, misunderstood Patty Hearst, who was kidnapped by some black thugs, brainwashed, and forced to rob a bank with them. Fortunately for her, F. Lee Bailey had nothing to do that year, so he filled in nicely.

  • Damn it’s amazing how Rob was able to quote Michael Douglas’ lines from Wall Street vebatim as Gordon Ghecko spoke them, and Surefire had Abbot”s character referenced amiably by Norman Mailer AND Jerry Kozinsky (or was it Jerzy). Also Abbot was known to have harbored the fugitive Hearst tainted debutante during her foray. Then you have Jerzy Kozinski committing suicide in ’91 and Abbot doing same in prison. I’m sure Kevin Bacon could enter this mix at anytime. Nair the less the Douglas kid’s going to have to do some serious time along with all the other “victimless” criminals, thereby supporting a tired and bloated system…. It boggles on.
    Good post, Celeste. You make sad news sorta fun!

  • Thanks, GJ. I had it all memorized. I did not copy and paste it. I fired that speech off at an unemployment hearing a few years back, too. They were not impressed.

  • Where is the compassion for Cameron Douglas? It’s was very difficult growing up as the son and grandson of Michael Douglas and Kirk Douglas. He is also a child of a divorced family, and to compund the problem, his father later married the young and hot looking Catherine Zeta-Jones. Poor Cameron has to even read stories about his father and hot step-mother’s sex life.

  • Yeah poor guy – NOW! Cameron’s due for a serious reality check. Welcome to the world young bon vivant derelictae. Cam’s gonna have to exercise his survival skills on a completely different plane. Maybe he can conjur up some of the moxie his Grandad portrayed. Sparticus maybe?
    Sarcasm aside, the kid was a victim. No less one than any poor kid who falls into the jaws of substance abuse. Look at the ramifications here. The kid was at the peak of privilege, had more than most of us could even imagine going for him, yet he chose to take the lowroad. I’ve been there. The confusion is monumental, the choices are singular. Do the drug until the hope for any salvation is merely another dose of the fucking drug. I feel for the kid. In my day prison provided a chance to activate the overused “bootstrap” maneuver. For Cameron it’s probably just another stopover to more self destruction. Sad my friends, and Godspeed to the kid.

  • Thank you…all I can think to say is my faith in humans has been a little restored at least. Thank you. Cameron Douglas does not deserve the horrible things he is being put though because he is from a famous family. I don’t fault the DOC, they are doing what they can given the situation to keep him safe, but something has got to be done to change this! It’s awefull! People, strangers rather just love to hate him. No one knows the details but him and the people involved judicially and legally. What he did or did not say is first of all no ones business but their’s and all this is putting his life in danger not to mention a violation of his 13th ammendant right leading to him being treated in a way which 20 states and the supreme court all consider cruel and unusual punishment. Research along with common sense has shown that kind of isolation has serious adverse effects not just on his own psyche and life but on society as a whole in turn. Remember this treatment is not the punishment to his crime, it’s the punishment to all of the media and gossip that has caused him to apparently be placed in certain conditions to protect him. How in any way is that just, right and okay to anyone. I don’t have the answer and I don’t claim to. I just am so saddened and appauled by most things I read and the anger and hatred and judgment toward him. This is the first I have read that seems to understand whats really going on and that he is a person. Things need to change and they can. Twenty states have already acknowledged this. Yes he has to do his time, but not like this. This is disturbing to say the least and if anything else horrible happens to him; besides the obvious confinement, slander and libels accusations, heartache for those who love him and of course the torment he must feel….aside from that, if he is hurt I seriously hope this nation wakes up and feels remorse for putting a human in a position like this to sell magazines or entertain themselves with hatred and morbid curiosity. If you ask me it kind of seems like people who value human life so little are the real dangerous ones who should be behind bars. Those are the people that scare me most. I know he will change and make a real difference in this world as a positive role model and success story but he has to be given a chance. Years of basically solitary is something that doesn’t promote change in someone for the better. That’s not to say he I in anyway don’t fully believe he still will because I do. I have faith in him but that doesn’t change the fact it’s torture and last i checked thats illegal for a reason. All this would be torture to anyone. I commend him for going through this and being able to come out on the other end, with a positive new start. I truly believe he will and that’s quite amazing.

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