Cameron Douglas Sentencing Memo Filed, Family Asks For Leniency

Cameron Douglas, the 31 year old son of Michael Douglas and his former wife, Diandra Douglas, will be sentenced on April 14 for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of crystal meth and more than 5 kilograms of cocaine. The charges carry a ten year mandatory minimum sentence, which the judge can depart from if the Government files a motion stating he has cooperated and provided information that is helpful to the investigation or prosecution of others. (The Judge can also depart or vary from the guidelines, but can't go under the mandatory minimum unless the Government makes the motion.)

Douglas' lawyers have filed a 119 page sentencing memorandum, which includes many letters from his immediate family, family friends and his own friends. There are a lot of redactions. Given the number of sealed documents on the docket, and his lawyers' request for either a sentence of time served or 42 months, it's apparent the Government will be filing a request for a reduction under the 10 year mandatory minimum for his cooperation.

That leaves the guidelines, which the Judge can depart or vary from for any number of reasons. Having read the 119 page memo, the original Complaint and the details of his bond revocation proceedings, here are some thoughts: [More...]

The defense does a good job of portraying Cameron Douglas as an addict with a miserable childhood, principally caused by his mother's inability to mother and the difficulty of having a famous father.

Among the many letters, none are overtly critical of Michael Douglas, and while the letters from his side of the family do not criticize Diandra Douglas, those from "her side" (family, friends and her second ex-husband) really do a hatchet job on her, sometimes unintentionally. After reading them, you get the sense Cameron never had a chance. Her letter does little to dispel this, although she seems pretty clueless, still chalking her poor mothering up to her young age (she was 21 when Cameron was born.)

Cameron has been a heroin addict for years. He didn't graduate high school, but passed a high school proficiency test and attended junior college for a while. He was an accomplished DJ and had acted in some films. But he always went back to drugs. At the time of his arrest, he was injecting heroin five to six times a day.

According to the defense, he withdrew from the conspiracy in 2007, but after he moved to New York, he ran into the guy he used to middle drug shipments for, who by now was working off his own case as an informant, and he talked Cameron into doing a deal, and Cameron got busted.

Cameron has been at MCC in New York since his bond was revoked 8 months ago. His lawyers say he's sober, doing well, and looking forward to rehab. (He exercises 2.5 hours a day, eats only "natural, simple foods" and competes in racquetball and handball games at MCC.) MCC does not offer drug treatment but he's been seeing a drug therapist (presumably at his family's expense.)

His lawyers are asking for a departure from the guidelines and the 10 year mandatory minimum (his guideline calculations and references to cooperation to get below the 10 year mandatory minimum seem to be blacked out) to time served so he can go right on supervised release and enter a drug program. Alternatively, they argue, that the judge should sentence him to 42 months so he can quickly get into the Bureau of Prisons Residential Drug and Alcohol Program (RDAP.) They say BOP considers inmates for RDAP placement (citing 28 C.F.R. 550.53(b)) when they have about 27 months left, after time served and good time reductions. (Memo, Page 32.)

The footnote on page 32 may be helpful to others, so I'll reprint it.

Based on private and public residential treatment models across the country, RDAP comprises two separate phases. First is the Residential Phase (Phase I), where inmates reside for nine months in a segregated treatment unit, a "therapeutic community" where inmates live, socialize, and attend classes and therapy together as a group.

During this residential phase, inmates receive psychological testing, drug and alcohol education, individual and group counseling, anger management and stress reduction therapy with trained drug treatment specialists (DTS), three hours per day, five days per week, for a presumed total of 500 hours. The balance of an inmate's day during treatment is spent at job assignments, participating in other programming, or individually using free time.

Homework assignments are routinely given and DAP inmates are expected to read reference materials, keep a journal and complete their assignments each evening before class the next day. After successfully completing the residential phase, the inmate is essentially guaranteed (as Phase Two) six months in a Pre-release "Aftercare." Aftercare is release hack to the community or the geographical location where the inmate plans to reside after the expiration of his sentence.

Pre-release inmates are first placed at a Residential Re-entry Center or "RRC" which is in effect, a work-furlough or work release facility, where the inmate readjusts &om prison to public life through employment and continued counseling.

The letters are all very heartfelt, personal and well-written -- while they don't treat Cameron as blameless and acknowledge he did wrong, they spend more time pointing out his good traits (which chiefly seems to be he's "big-hearted" and good with his younger siblings) and then blame his upbringing and beg for mercy.

So, what should the Judge do with Cameron? I don't think the Judge can ignore his family history and background. It's who he is and it contributed to and affected his life. The Judge, by law, has to consider the history and characteristics of the offender. It's not treating him differently because he comes from a wealthy and famous family, it's considering him as an individual, and he's entitled to that.

While drug addiction is a disease and a medical problem, selling drugs, even to feed a habit, is against the law. But the Judge has options. The defense cites many cases where judges have granted relief along the lines they are requesting for Cameron. I doubt the all of the defendants in those cases came from privileged backgrounds.

In short, I don't see Cameron getting a sentence to time served. I do see him getting far below the 10 year mandatory minimum, and I think that's the right call. He's a user who sold more than he needed to in order to supply his own needs, but nonetheless, a user. Treatment is a better alternative than prison.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Medical problem? Lock him up til he gets well. (none / 0) (#1)
    by Yes2Truth on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 08:29:34 AM EST

    Where's the logic in that?  Where's the outrage?

    Just because Michael Douglas (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 10:24:15 AM EST
    blames himself for his son's problems doesn't, to me, mean the court should do so.  Son of famous Caucasian movie actcr/producer should not be seen as receiving lighter sentence than anyone else in the same circumstances.

    then there is this: (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by CST on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 10:29:56 AM EST
    "The defense cites many cases where judges have granted relief along the lines they are requesting for Cameron."

    emphasis mine.

    He shouldn't be held to a higher standard either just because of who his father is.