Douglas Received Longest-Ever Sentence of 5 Extra Years in Prison for Drug Relapse
Ruling Flies in Face of Nation’s Leading Medical and Substance Abuse Experts Who Signed Amicus Brief That Adequate Treatment, Not More Jail Time, is a Better Solution for Both the Individual and Society as a Whole
A federal appeals court in New York has upheld a judge’s decision to nearly double the five-year prison sentence given to the son of actor Michael Douglas.
Cameron Douglas was sentenced in 2010 to five years in prison after pleading guilty to narcotics distribution as part of a cooperation deal. But after Douglas committed drug infractions in prison, Judge Richard Berman boosted the sentence by an additional five years in late 2011.
The ruling to confirm the sentence flies in the face of a wide array of New York State’s and the nation’s leading medical and substance abuse treatment authorities challenging what may be the longest-ever federal prison sentence imposed for simple possession of drugs for personal use behind bars. The unprecedented, nearly five-year sentence for simple drug possession was meted out last year to Cameron Douglas.
In their brief, the medical experts contend that Douglas’ drug relapse behind bars is not surprising, particularly given the fact that he, like so many other inmates suffering from addiction in American prisons and jails, are not provided any meaningful drug treatment during their incarceration. The brief argues that adequate treatment, not more jail time, is a better solution for both the individual and society as a whole.
“Mr. Douglas’s case, and his draconian sentence, underscore how our federal drug laws have departed so dramatically from medicine, reason, public health and common sense,” said Daniel Abrahamson, director of legal affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and organizer of the amicus brief.
“Those laws, and our prisons which fail to provide adequate treatment and rehabilitation services, cause as much or greater devastation to individuals, families and communities than drug use and abuse,” Abrahamson said.