Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Misdirected Michael Douglas Campaign

So Michael Douglas, a favourite actor and a seemingly intelligent and compassionate human being, is upset with the U.S. penal system. His son Cameron is doing a long stretch in a federal prison for drug offences, and his dad doesn’t get to visit him because the lad is in solitary confinement for lengthy periods.
   The senior Douglas aired his complaints about the penal system at the Sept. 21 Emmy Awards, using phrases such as “non-violent drug addicts” and “happen to have a slip.” The junior Douglas also has been campaigning for attention from prison, writing an essay complaining about the prison system and the harshness against “non-violent drug offenders who are losing much of what is relevant in life.
   This PR campaign has garnered sympathy with blog commentary saying how wonderful Cameron is and how hateful the justice system is.
   The Douglas campaign needs to be balanced with a few facts. Cameron Douglas was given four years for drug distribution. He was part of a criminal system that distributed drugs intended to addict more of our young people. Later his sentence was extended by 4.5 years because he broke prison rules on more than one occasion. One of those was when he convinced an infatuated lawyer to smuggle him drugs in her bra.
    If the prison system is too harsh on people who take drugs but do not involve anyone else, then surely changes should be made. However, people who distribute drugs knowing that they are helping to destroy other people’s lives deserve everything that the system throws at them.
   Cameron’s best bet is to do his time productively and stop jerking around with the prison rules. Dad Michael can help his son, and the rest of us, by using his fame and wealth to help attack the roots of the drug culture and drug trade.
   There might be injustices against those already addicted, but surely most of society’s concern should be for those who will be drawn in and destroyed by the growing curse of illegal drugs.

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