Attitude Media Crime and Punishment

Justice for an Unjust World

by, John F Groom

  • 12 of 18

Cameron Douglas Rots while Ricky Ross Walks

      In fact, sometimes rich white men serve harsher sentences than their poorer minority counterparts; the actor Michael Douglas is convinced that his son has received extra harsh treatment because he has a famous (rich and white) father

Cameron Douglas is serving a 10 year prison sentence for drug possession and dealing, despite agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors. There are

many murderers that don’t get 10 year sentences.It’s worth examining his case in some depth as an example of the resources within the criminal justice system devoted to crimes like drug abuse.
      Cameron Douglas was kicked out of school for dealing pot at age 13. He was arrested in New York for cocaine possession in 1999. In 2007 he was arrested again for cocaine possession. He started using heroin when he was 26, and was shooting up seven times a day according to an interview his father gave to New York magazine in early 2013. His habit was costing $5,000 a week, so he started dealing crystal meth, another extremely addictive, destructive drug, to support his heroin habit. In 2009 he was arrested with half a pound of methamphetamines, as well as heroin and cocaine for which he was given a choice of serving a ten year prison sentence or cooperating with investigators and getting a 5 year sentence. He cooperated, was sentenced to five years, but was then found in possession again while in prison, and was sentenced to another 4 and a half years. In December 2012 he had his leg broken by another inmate. In January of 2013 he failed a drug test while in prison yet again, and he was sent to solitary confinement for 11 months. Family visits were denied for two years. He is now expected to be in prison until at least 2018. Note that despite multiple arrests, he has never been accused of an act of violence. In fact, all he has done is to consume drugs himself, and sell relatively very small amounts to other willing buyers. The worst that can be said about him is that he’s a man who eats his own cooking, no matter how bad it might be.
      Meanwhile, while Cameron Douglas, the son of a rich and famous white man, rots in jail for being a drug user and small time dealer, Ricky Ross, the son of a poor black man, is not only free, but lionized. One of the biggest dealers in Southern California history, Ross made hundreds of millions of dollars selling tons of crack cocaine from 1982 to 1989. He is singlehandedly responsible for the rot of entire communities, and his henchmen carried submachine guns, yet Ross is someone who people are bending over backwards to help and glorify. Ricky Ross was convicted 3 times, and under federal 3 strikes law he had, supposedly, no chance of parole. His last sentence was for “life”. And yet, in stark contrast to Cameron Diaz, he is a free man.
      If Rick Ross had not been born poor and black, he would have a televangelist, or maybe even the small black version of Tony Robbins. Even after being convicted for the 3rd time and behind bars with no parole, he told a writer for LA magazine
       “This is America, we can dream. That’s one thing they didn’t take from me. They didn’t say, ‘You can’t dream no more, Freeway Rick“ As the writer said, “If he were less messianic—more chagrined—people might equate him with the costs of his legend: the neighborhoods trampled, the families decimated, the minds scrambled, the flesh depreciated, the blood spilled.”
      It’s this sort of wild optimism, the salesmanship and resilience that is so American, that enabled a man sentenced to life in jail to eventually walk out, while low level losers, even those from rich and famous families, rot in jail. Clearly, it’s not about the scope of the crime, but about attitude. Ross is a social media phenom with 13,000 Facebook fans and 47,000 twitter followers. He gets “nothing but love” wherever he goes. Filmmaker Mark Levin is working with Ross on a documentary. In addition to the LA magazine article quoted here, he was also the subject of a major profile in Esquire magazine in 2013. Ross makes TV appearances and gives interviews. The media loves him, in large part because, unlike the losers to whom he made millions selling coke, Ross is interesting and bristling with enthusiasm. But the fact that he is free while Douglas sits in jail is also a major part of the story of American crime and punishment; those who steal millions are often in jail for less time than those who steal thousands, because Americans, including judges and juries, are swept away by the bravado and the scale of the rich and famous.
      Ross cavorts with known felons and doesn’t bother to report his sources of income to his probation officer. According to the probation reports sited in the LA magazine article, Mr. Ross has replied that he is ‘too busy’ to complete the paperwork properly and on more than one occasion, he has responded to the probation officer with ‘fuck it,’ and ‘you can catch me when you can.’ ” Yet when the probation office sought to return him to prison, the presiding judge, Marilyn L. Huff, let Ross walk.
      What else does the story of Ricky Ross and Cameron Douglas have to say about crime and punishment? In modern America, it’s not race that matters, it’s not the severity of your crime – what matters is your ability to manipulate the system. But beyond that, the story of Ricky Ross is also the story in general of the drug war, and it’s a story that has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with betrayal, corruption, and incompetence. The story is somewhat confusing, as published accounts of Ross’ story differ as to dates, but the general outline is as follows.
      In the spring of 1982, Ross was arrested for the first time and charged with possession of stolen auto parts. We could not find any record of whether he was convicted or actually served time as a result of this arrest. Around this time he was, by his own admissions, a small time crook involved in a number of illegal activities.
      In 1987, when he was busted for drugs for the first time, Ross was already a major cocaine distributor. He was sentenced to 10 years, but only served 4 and a half when he cooperated with an investigation into corruption in the LA Sheriff’s department; Sherriff’s deputies were stealing money from drug dealers and beating them, among other offenses. The cooperation that Ross provided did not seem to do much good, as the inept investigators accidentally erased the tapes.
      In 1995 Ross was arrested again, set up by his own dealer, Oscar Danilo Blandón, Since he was dealing across the entire United States, Ross was guilty of felonies in multiple states, and ended up getting 20 years with no possibility of parole. Ross ultimately managed to get released in 2009 after successfully arguing that he had only been convicted on drug charges twice, rather than 3 times, thus making him eligible for parole. In classic legal fashion, Ross argued that two of his convictions were really for the same thing, although they occurred in two different states. Unlike Cameron Douglas, Ross was also a model prisoner, helping his release. Of course, the reason he was a model prisoner was that he didn’t use the product which he had helped hook thousands of other people on; unlike Douglas, Ross was smart enough not to eat his own cooking.
      Not only is Ross a free man, but his pipeline to tons of cocaine, the dealer who had turned on him, is also free. Blandon had made millions importing coke from Nicaragua and selling it to Ross, but turned him in for a payment of $45,000 from the feds. Blandon was said to have ties to the CIA, but for whatever reason, served only six years in jail. The story of Ross and Blandon is the perfect illustration of a corrupt system; sheriffs’ deputies stealing from drug dealers, drug dealers being sheltered by the DEA and/or CIA, lawyers in the midst of it all, everyone turning on anyone, and taxpayers financing a war that seems to catch everyone and no one, and stop nothing.
      Meanwhile, Cameron Douglas, the pathetic son of a rich and famous white man, rots in jail, not a big enough fish to be useful to anyone.

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