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Question of the Day
NEW YORK (AP) - A judge called the imprisoned son of actor Michael Douglas reckless and irresponsible as he nearly doubled his prison sentence Wednesday from five years to 9 1/2 years for repeated drug offenses.
U.S. District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan cited Cameron Douglas‘ “history of reckless behavior” as he imposed a new punishment that was more than double what prosecutors were seeking for Douglas‘ guilty plea to drug charges that arose from his successful efforts to smuggle drugs into prison.
The judge said he had never had a case before in which a defendant “has so recklessly, wantonly, flagrantly and criminally acted in such a destructive and manipulative fashion as Cameron Douglas has.”
Berman reminded Douglas‘ lawyers that he had warned at the earlier sentencing that it was the defendant’s last chance to turn around a life derailed by drugs and mental troubles stretching into his teenage years.
The judge also criticized the government for being too lenient on Douglas after he repeatedly violated prison rules by arranging to get drugs. The judge said the violations included four instances in which a lawyer smuggled anti-anxiety prescription drugs into prison for Douglas in her bra. The lawyer entered into a deferred prosecution agreement that enabled the charges against her to be dropped if she stayed out of trouble for six months.
The 33-year-old Douglas asked the judge to give him another chance at treatment.
“I cannot seem to find comfort within my own skin,” he said. “I feel ashamed. I feel defeated. … I know that I bear in my heart what it will take to overcome this plague.”
He asked Berman to give him “the room to deal with this situation medically.”
His lawyer also requested leniency for his client, saying that his efforts to get drugs in prison were not unusual for a drug addict who had not been rehabilitated.
The judge noted at one point that Michael Douglas had told probation authorities that his son had been treated six or seven times for drug addiction, but had not completed the treatments.
Berman recommended that Cameron Douglas be sent to a prison facility that can offer him drug treatment and mental health care, although the final decision is let up to the Bureau of Prisons. He also recommended that Douglas be allowed family visits, which have been disallowed since he has been held in solitary confinement for 11 months for violating prison rules.
Earlier this year, Douglas testified as part of a cooperation deal with the government at a drug supplier’s trial.
He said he had been addicted to heroin for five years before his 2009 arrest.
The cooperation by the son of the Oscar-winning actor allowed him to escape the mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison that the charges to which he pleaded otherwise required.
By Michael P. Orsi
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