Should Michael Douglas Stand up for his Incarcerated Son?
If you were watching the Emmys on Sunday night, you probably saw Michael Douglas win Best Actor In A Miniseries for his role as Liberace in the HBO movie Behind the Candelabra. But it wasn’t his win that still has people talking, it’s what he then said about the US prison system. Specifically, its treatment of his oldest son.
Cameron Douglas, 35, is currently serving time in a medium-security prison in Maryland on drug related charges. Sentenced to five years in 2010 for trafficking heroin and meth, he was then given another 4 ½ years after he was caught using drugs inside. And then, believe it or not, it got worse.
His famous father, Michael, gave him a shout out while on stage, saying he hoped he’d be allowed to see him soon. Then he later expanded on Cameron's situation:
"He's spent almost two years in solitary confinement. Right now I've been told that I can't see him for two years. It's been over a year now. And I'm questioning the system," Douglas said Sunday night backstage at the Emmys.
I admit that my first reaction to his statement wasn’t at all positive because it seemed like just another case of a famous parent trying to sway the authorities on behalf of their privileged, screwed up kid. A kid who has been given countless chances to fly right, with expensive rehab stays, the best lawyers available and parents who at least appear to be involved and concerned, unlike the vast majority of others serving similar prison sentences.
But then I read a little bit more about the situation and saw that this isn’t really a case of a famous dad trying to pull strings for his kid. In fact, when his son was first sentenced, Michael actually said he felt that he got what was “due to him” based on his actions. It wasn’t until Cameron, a non-violent offender, failed a drug test and was thrown into solitary confinement that he got upset.
Per the ACLU, “Solitary confinement is the practice of placing a person in physical and social isolation for 22 to 24 hours a day with little or no human contact. Extended stays in solitary confinement can drive people insane, and those who already have mental disabilities often deteriorate further in solitary. They are fed through a slot in the door. They are deprived of natural light.”
Now imagine having your addict son in solitary. For two years. As Douglas put it, “Obviously, at first I was disappointed with my son, but I’ve reached a point now where I’m very disappointed with the system.” A system that's estimated to have over 80,000 prisoners in solitary.
No matter how you look at it, what's going on in the Douglas family is a sad state of affairs. No parent ever wants to deal with something like this. But at least Michael is trying.