LOS ANGELES — Michael Douglas' son is speaking out from behind bars, calling for treatment rather than jail time for non-violent drug offenders.
Cameron Douglas says in an essay published Tuesday by the Huffington Post that United States laws impose tougher penalties on addicts than on violent criminals. The 34-year-old is serving a 9 1/2-year prison sentence after various drug violations.
Douglas was first convicted in 2010 of selling methamphetamine, and a judge nearly doubled that sentence after he was found guilty of repeatedly breaking prison rules by arranging to get drugs.
An actor who starred with his famous father and grandfather in 2003's "It Runs In the Family," Douglas writes that he "seem(s) to be trapped in a vicious cycle of relapse and repeat, as most addicts are" and that a long prison sentence without adequate treatment "does absolutely nothing but temporarily deter (addicts) from succumbing to their weakness."
"Instead of focusing on how many individuals this county can keep imprisoned, why can we not focus on how many individuals we can keep from coming back?" he writes.
In April, Douglas lost his appeal against the doubled prison term. Though the appeals panel upheld the judge's original decision, it delivered a similar message then as Cameron does in his essay.
"It may well be that the nation would be better served by a medical approach to treating and preventing addiction than by a criminal-justice-based 'war on drugs,'" the court said.
"The multiple costs of our imprisonment approach — including the expense of filling our prisons with drug addicts, to mention just a base economic cost — impel me to express the hope that Congress may someday seek out a different way of dealing with this problem," Judge Guido Calabresi wrote.
Douglas says in his essay that he's not trying to avoid punishment, but after deeply examining his condition, he wants to "stimulate some thought on the topic."
"I can only hope that the educated, just, and decent men and women who hold positions of influence will find the courage to fight for change because they understand what is inherently right," he writes. "In doing so, they will start gaining the support necessary to begin breaking these malignant molds that are such a detriment to our society and culture as a whole."
Douglas is scheduled for release in early 2018.