Cameron Douglas, 31, son of Oscar Award winning actor Michael Douglas, was sentenced today to 5 years in prison, according to the New York Times. He had faced a minimum 10 year sentence for charges of dealing large quantities of methamphetamine and cocaine in Manhattan in 2009. Some believe this unfair, saying it is preferential treatment. I disagree.
Through letters, friends and family pleaded with the judge to show leniency on him. Michael Douglas wrote that Cameron’s battle with drugs began at the young age of 13 and that genes may play a part in his son’s addiction. Michael Douglas himself went to rehab in 1992 for alcoholism. Then there was the drug and alcohol overdose death of his half brother Eric Douglas in 2004. Many psychologists believe there is an increased risk of addiction if there is a family history.
Growing up in the shadow of a celebrity parent and grandparent is another pressure Michael Douglas felt might have contributed to Cameron’s drug use. Kids of celebrities may also struggle to have a normal life. A celebrity parent may be away for extended periods of time and they may have to contend with paparazzi. According to E! Online, like their father rocker Ozzy Osbourne, Jack and Kelly Osbourne have struggled with drugs and been to rehab. Redmond O’Neal, son of Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O’Neal, has been in and out of rehab and jail for drugs, according to NY Daily News. Being in the Hollywood environment may make it easier for someone to take this direction in life. They may gain easy entry into parties and clubs where drugs may be readily available.
In his ruling Judge Berman expressed fear that Cameron Douglas would likely go back to using drugs if released too soon. Although acknowledging his troubled childhood, the judge balked at the idea that he should be viewed as a victim. Cameron was also given credit for time served and he has the potential to be released even sooner if he enters a treatment program while in prison.
The goal in sentencing is for an offender serve time to repay their debt to society, to prevent them from committing further crimes and for rehabilitation. Cameron Douglas may have been more prone to drug abuse because of genes, his childhood or the environment he grew up in, but he did break the law. His crimes were committed because he was a junkie looking for a way to support his habit and lifestyle. He appears remorseful and expresses a desire to stay clean. Although the sentence could be much longer it is hopefully enough to give Cameron Douglas the motive to become a sober, law-abiding citizen.
Karen Zraick, Son of Michael Douglas is Sentenced, nytimes.com
Tom Hays, Michael Douglas’ son Gets 5-year prison sentence, Yahoo.com
Charlie Amiter, Kelly Osbourne Back in Rehab, E!online.com
Cristina Everett, Redmond O’Neal arrested on drug charges while still undergoing rehab, NYdailynews.com