What Should Happen to Robert Downey, Jr.?

What Should Happen to Robert Downey, Jr.?
Posted by FoM on December 27, 2000 at 16:43:03 PT
Talk Back Live Transcripts Aired December 27, 2000
Source: CNN
COSSACK: Are we more likely to pity a fallen star than lackluster dealers and users? Would you send Downey to jail? To rehab? Or both? Welcome to TALKBACK LIVE. I'm Roger Cossack in for Bobbie Battista. Well, is one junkie pretty much like another? What's the difference between Robert Downey, Jr. and the user on the sidewalk? 
Before we get into this let's talk with CNN correspondent Paul Vercammen about Downey's growing rap sheet. Well, Paul, you were in the courtroom this morning. You saw Robert Downey in the courtroom. Tell us a little bit about what happened in the courtroom, and tell us about Robert Downey's history. PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first off, Roger, as you heard earlier, Robert Downey, Jr. entered the courtroom here in Indio today and he pleaded not guilty to two felony charges, that was possession of cocaine and possession of methamphetamine. He also pleaded not guilty or innocent to a misdemeanor, that was being under the influence of a controlled substance. Now, they did go ahead and they will have a hearing for Downey on the 29th of January, and that's an extended drug program hearing. And by the way, after this, I talked to the prosecutor. She wasn't speaking directly about Downey but she says 50 to 75 percent of the time they seem to negotiate, talk about, settle these cases. You were talking about Robert Downey and the litany of troubles that he's had. Well, it all began back in 1996 when on a traffic stop, he was found to have heroin and some other substances in his car. Eventually, he did plead guilty in the charges linked to that. There were some other incidents including the Goldilocks incident, I should say, when he was found in a neighbor's child's cot in the neighborhood. Malibu to be specific. Well, he served time for his crimes and in fact, he was in the state prison, at Corcoran here in California for a good year, and then he was released on August 2nd. He immediately went to work. He worked on "Ally McBeal." He put in 10 episodes there, and in fact he received a Golden Globe nomination just last week for his performance on "Ally McBeal."I bring all that up because I did talk to an addiction medicine specialist on background, and they characterize -- and even another prosecutor did in another county, Downey as a functioning addict. He's not somebody who would appear before them let's say 5, 10 times a year with just a string of other problems associated with his addiction, you know, including theft to try to support his habits. So, basically we'll have to wait and see what happens here in Indio on the 29th and if there possibly down the road could be sort of deal in the works -- Roger. COSSACK: Paul, you talked about the expedited drug program they have in Riverside County and you said that you heard that 50 to 75 percent of these cases settle. When you talk about settle, what exactly does that mean? They get together beforehand and come to the prosecutor and the defense lawyer and they make some kind of an agreement as to what's going to happen? VERCAMMEN: Well, in talking to Tricia Kelly who was the deputy district attorney on the case, and again, this was off camera, she said to me that she often handles these types of cases and I'm under the impression from talking to her is what happens is a whole batch of those types of cases go on the docket that day or will go on the docket that afternoon, which is 1:30. They will see through negotiations, through discussions if they can't reach some sort of agreement. Who knows? It could he a plea to go ahead and say -- and I don't mean this for Downey -- but a suspect, I'll do some jail time. I'll do some court ordered rehabilitation program. I'll do some court ordered drug testing. I think the idea, and she told me this flat out, they don't want to clutter this tiny courtroom behind me with all of these drug cases, and apparently, it's a huge, huge portion of the work that they now go through in this modern era. COSSACK: You know, that really speaks volumes for what's going on, I think not only in that small little courtroom, Paul, but in perhaps most of the country, too, with this great amount of litigation having to do with people on drugs, and the notion that they set these things up just to get them over with in a hurry rather than clog up the courtroom probably tells us more about the drug problem and the drug problem in the courts in this country than anything else we can say anything about Robert Downey, but joining us now is Rob Becker, a litigation attorney who writes a column on sports and on the law for Excuse me, for not being able to put Fox out there. You know, being a CNN guy, it's difficult for me to say. ROB BECKER, ATTORNEY/COLUMNIST: That's all right, Roger. COSSACK: Rob, let's talk a little bit about what happened in the courtroom today. They -- initially when the lawyer went in, Danny Brookman went in for his client, Robert Downey, he wanted to have the arraignment continued. Now, I, you know, I'm enough of a lawyer to know that at the arraignment all you do is enter your plea of not guilty and they give you another date to come back and that's exactly what happened here. Why would he want to have this thing continued? Why wasn't ready to say not guilty today? BECKER: Well, he may have wanted to figure out which of the charges he wanted to plead not guilty to. He may have thought that there was a stronger case on one charge than on other and then when he didn't get the time he wanted he probably just said to himself, well, I'll just have to plead not guilty to everything which, by the way, in Downey's history is somewhat unusual. He tends to fight -- not to fight the charges. He pleads no contest, and I think that what is going through Brookman's head here is he may have something. He may at least have reason to believe that some of these charges will not stick and he just needs more information. That's why he wanted to put off of the arraignment but the prosecution pointed out that according to the dates that are established in California law, they did not have to give information prior to this arraignment. COSSACK: Well, Rob, let's talk about the charges not sticking. At least of the allegations are that he is found in a hotel room with these drugs. They alleged that he was under the influence of drugs, and they find, apparently, they say at least, the police say they found cocaine and they found methamphetamine in the hotel room along with him. You know, what's the defense to something like that? BECKER: Well, I'm going to assume that there's a decent chance that he was set-up, and I'll tell you the reason for that are, that first of all, someone called in to the police and said, hey, there's a guy in room 311. COSSACK: All right. You know, Rob, let just me interrupt you for one. We have to go back to Lou Waters for some news. I believe it's going to have a president news conference. Lou, go ahead. LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Roger. President Clinton is making news at White House where he has just appointed Virginia trial lawyer Roger Gregory to become the first African-American ever to serve on the District Court, the Fourth District Court, which comprises to the largest African-American population of any circuit in the country. Upon ratification by the U.S. Senate, Roger Gregory will become the first African-American to serve on that court. The president now is taking questions in the Oval Office. Let's listen to what he has to say. (INTERRUPTED BY COVERAGE OF A LIVE EVENT)(COMMERCIAL BREAK)COSSACK: All right, we're back with some more on TALKBACK LIVE. Let me go to Paul Vercammen for one final question. Paul, is Robert Downey Jr. -- we know he is out on bail. Is he going to be working? VERCAMMEN: He's free to if he should choose to. Don't forget, we've pointed out that he was nominated for that Golden Globe. And that's on January 24. He can go. His installment of episodes on "Ally McBeal" -- 10 episodes in all -- that's finished for now. But they could conceptually go ahead and call him back about into the show. Also, Mel Gibson, he and Downey struck up a friendship, I believe during the filming of a movie, "Air America."Well, Gibson is to direct Downey in a live theater version of "Hamlet." That was scheduled for January. And that's been moved back to March. It had nothing to do with Downey's current legal troubles. So, as of now, yes, Downey can work on any project, should he choose to. I have heard this about him: that in order to stay near his son -- ironically, his son's name is Indio -- and not get too far afield, too far away from the Hollywood, he has turned down some other projects that would have taken him well away from the state of California. COSSACK: All right, Paul Vercammen, thanks for joining us. Is Robert Downey Jr. a criminal? Is he sick? Should he be hospitalized, jailed, or perhaps both? That is our TALKBACK LIVE "Viewer Vote" question at AOL keyword: CNN. Up next: curing addiction. Stay with us. Let's find out if you can. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)COSSACK: All right. Welcome back. Please welcome Dr. Paul Earley, director of Addiction Medicine Services at the Ridgeview Institute here in Atlanta. Dr. Earley, thanks for joining us. Let me read a quote that Robert Downey Jr. made, as quoted in "Details" magazine of October of 2000. He said: "The threat of prison has been eliminated for me. I know I can do time now. I can even go out and do stuff that makes me what -- that makes what I did before seem tame, and then go handle my business wherever they would put me. Practically all the fear about that has been eliminated."Now, in terms of a person -- and, you know -- and we obviously pulled that quote out of "Details" magazine. But in terms a person who seems to be saying: Look, the addiction is so strong, that fears that I might have or you might have about going to prison no longer concern me. What does that say about his chances for rehabilitation?DR. PAUL H. EARLEY, RIDGEVIEW INSTITUTE: Roger, it depends on each particular person, how they respond to it. The threat of jail usually does not -- once you get severely addicted, the threat of jail doesn't change your chances of getting better, after you get a taste of jail, after you survive jail. That is not going change his attitude. It -- once he gets in a mode of wanting to get into recovery or wanting to stay in recovery -- and that takes time -- the threat of returning to jail will become more real to him.And, at that the point, things like mandatory urine testing with threat of jail, or mandatory jail time if he doesn't stay sober might be effective. Right now, when you're in the middle of the using, jail seems like small potatoes compared to the struggle he has with drugs. COSSACK: You know, the problem I think most of us have with somebody like Robert Downey Jr is that you look and you say: Wait a minute, what's wrong here? You know, here is this guy that seems to have the ideal life, that has the world where he wants it. He is talented. He's young. He's rich. He's good looking. He seems to have everything that anybody could possibly want. And yet he screws up his life. And he doesn't seem to be able to stop. And I think most of us would want to say: Robert, Robert, come on, what's wrong here? Why doesn't that work? I mean, how do you make him do what you said? How you make him want to stop? I assume that he has probably wanted to. EARLEY: Yes. Every addict, from time to time, wants to stop. The idea is to string together those times for a prolonged enough period of time where the brain chemistry changes, where a brain -- where the brain chemistry changes, and that individual says: Gee, this is better than it used to be when I was using. Early on in recovery, often life seems worse, because the drug fulfills some need that he has biochemically. And so what we try to do is get people to string together enough time. Thing like the prolonged jail time doesn't work. Treatment does work. And, as a matter of fact, treatment is less expensive than putting -- than all this -- the court system. You see how these...COSSACK: Right.EARLEY: The people that are addicted are clogging up the courts. COSSACK: Right.EARLEY: Treatment is actually less expensive. But in the United States, we choose to -- currently, to spend more of our money building more jails and less of our money on treatment. COSSACK: Let's -- we have a call from Lynn from Utah. Lynn, go ahead, please. CALLER: Hi. COSSACK: Hi. CALLER: I just wanted to say, first of all, what I have read about Robert Downey Jr.'s addiction is that he started very young with the help of a parent. So I guess he qualifies somewhat as a victim, although eventually you turn that around and you say: I am not longer a victim. I am a survivor now. But I agree. I think we need to spend more time on treatment. Even though it is a crime and we need to treat it as such, I think -- I think it's more of an illness. And that's where our priorities lie. And that's why we call ourself a society. We take care of each other. COSSACK: All right. Very good, Lynn. Let's see what Chris, who's handling our chat room today -- Chris, what do the chat people have to say? CHRIS: A lot of them say that drug war and prison money for addicts should be used for rehabilitation and treatment instead of sending them to jail with more addicts that surround them. COSSACK: Rob Becker, as an attorney, which way is the wind blowing on this? You know, there comes this point -- you know, we talk about drugs as a victimless crime. But yet the notion is that you're only hurting yourself. But, in fact, you know, addicts and drug users can hurt other people -- I mean, if they just -- if they are behind the wheel a car, or they go out and rob or do something to get those drugs.What happens to people like that? You know, in this particular case, everyone agrees that Downey was sitting in a hotel room. And he wasn't causing any trouble to anyone else. But, you know, that's not always the case. BECKER: Well, to some extent, you're going to have to put people away from society. You have to, as they say incapacitate them. It doesn't necessarily have to be in prison. It can be in the treatment center with high security. Now, as you say, with Robert Downey, he hasn't hurt anything. He is someone who really needs probably probation to have an officer that he reports to, which was not the case at the time of the most recent incident. He's also someone that has manic depression, and needs to be treated for that as well. You know, I think that -- I generally agree with everything's that been said. You cannot treat his problem in prison, but you have to keep him away from people who might he harm as long as he's in that status and when he gets better from that, then you don't even have to worry as much about keeping him away from others. COSSACK: Dr. Earley, what about the treatment for -- I don't know if he's a manic depressive or not, but assume that he is. Is that the treatment that he needs or is there other kind of treatment? EARLEY: Well, if someone has an addiction problem, the most important thing to do is to get the person off of drugs long enough to figure out exactly what you've got. COSSACK: But he was in jail for a year. I mean, how much longer do you have to keep him off? EARLEY: OK, there's a difference between taking someone off of drugs and putting them in jail and having them in a therapeutic environment, Roger. And, you know, you take and you place them in a place like Ridgeview where people are looking at them all the time, and you have people observe what's going on. You can begin to tell, does the manic depression need to be treated? Does it even exists? And if it exists, it definitely needs to be treated at the same time as addiction needs to be managed. If it doesn't exist -- and you have to have enough people with enough eyes on that person. You can't just house someone. You can't put someone away from drugs and expect -- we tried that. At the turn of the century, we had asylums that we put the alcoholic people in and that didn't work. COSSACK: So, we need a better. EARLEY: We need a better way. We have a better way. That's the tragic. COSSACK: All right, well, let's break the ice and go to our audience. Linda, come one, tell us what you're thinking. LINDA: I'd like to know how you legislate against self- destructive behavior? COSSACK: Well, that's a very good question. Is this something that the legislature should be involved in. In other words, should we pass laws against that or one way or the other -- Dr. Earley? EARLEY: Well, actually, the way to get at people that are addicted is to legislate against the actions they cause against others, and when they cause actions against others, to say you are no longer functioning in a way in which you're doing good to society, and you need to do something about that. Around -- we do have laws around self-destructive behavior, but taking someone like Robert Downey, Jr., getting him in a therapeutic environment. People come to us and stay with us for a year in a therapeutic environment. Now, are they inpatient all of that time, no. But they dedicate a year of their life to getting better. If you give someone like him a year with me, we'll be able to get him better. COSSACK: All right, let's take a break. When we come back, we're going to have a former D.C. cop who's got a lot of experience in this area. We're going to find out what the police point of view and find out what should happen to drug offenders. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)COSSACK: Welcome back. Joining us now is Gary Hankins, past president of the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police. He spent 22 years with the D.C. police department. Gary, how are you? You've been with us several times on "BURDEN OF PROOF." Thank you for joining us now on TALKBACK LIVE. Gary, drugs. It's a tough, tough problem. What is your recommendations from a former police officer point of view? What should be done in these situations? GARY HANKINS, FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE: Well, I agree that it is criminal and should be treated as a criminal behavior, but not for, I think, the stereotypical, knee-jerk reasons that people describe to police officers. This is behavior that is not only self-destructive, it's destructive to their families, the communities around them and the vast majority of the people who are arrested for drug offenses that committed other criminal acts, and most often those acts are bargained down, plea bargained to simple possession charges. So, I believe that we are in a dangerous situation, and as a society, we entertain saying we're going to say that it's OK to be a drug addict. This is not a disease in a sense that you unwillingly catch it. At some point you make a decision to use a substance to which you become addicted, and that addiction then does indeed drive your life and has many of the same consequences as other illnesses, but we cannot afford as a community and society, to say, OK, we're going to ignore this and have it treated because these people commit crimes virtually every day while they're trying to raise money to buy the drugs that they want and need. I believe that once incarcerated, the individual should be treated and they should be required to become educated and to work, to develop skills that can provide a productive civilized, law-abiding life-style. We don't do that right now. We simply place people in jail and we ignore them. COSSACK: Yes, we warehouse them, right, Gary? HANKINS: Unfortunately, and there are tremendous prison programs where prison industries are producing amazing results in the reduction of recidivism that can't accommodate all the prisoners who want to become involved. COSSACK: All right, let me just interrupt a second and go to Rob Becker. Rob, you heard what Gary Hankins has suggested. What is you feeling as an attorney on this?BECKER: Well, I wanted to just say something about Robert Downey, because we have to remember this is a guy the only crimes he committed other than the ones where he hurts himself is sleep in a neighbor's bed. This is a guy who sees also, if you go back to what your reporter Paul said at the beginning of the show, he is a functioning addict. He's not someone who's been in trouble nearly as many times as a lot other addicts, and so I just think that the best way to deal with him is as I said before is to rehabilitate him, and not treat him like a criminal. (CROSSTALK)HANKINS: But he's the exception, not the rule. COSSACK: Yes, OK, let me just interrupt a second because I want to read some e-mails that we received. One is from Richard in Indiana, and he says: "You know, breaking the law deserves punishment -- and he says in parentheses prison -- and then rehabilitation" Jeremy says: "I honestly believe that drug users should be left alone, provided they respect the rights of others." That's Jeremy from Arizona. Laura in Mexico City: "I'm a fan of Robert Downey, Jr., but I'm not in favor of drugs, but I am against jail in this case. He needs love and needs to feel that someone cares about him." And finally, Michelle in Ohio says: "Can't people convicted of drug use go to jail and have access to a rehab program. There needs to be some kind of punishment that will act as a deterrent." And I that's what Gary Hankins -- I think that's the point that Gary Hankins is trying to make...HANKINS: Well, not really.COSSACK: ... which is the sense that you need to put them jail, but while you're in jail get some kind of rehabilitation. Isn't that, Gary? HANKINS: Well, I think that it is not just a punishment. We should use the opportunity of incarcerating these individuals because of criminal behavior to be the tough-loving parent they need to have. You know, in Europe, they legalized drugs and it did indeed experience a temporary decline in criminal activity because these people were able to get drugs without having to buy them on an illegal market. But then they discovered that the state was providing substance sustenance, and that these people didn't get drugs to become or maintain a normal feeling. They got drugs and got addicted to drugs to get high. So, then they would take the drugs that they had been provided by the government, go out and purchase more drugs to get high again more cheaply because the government provided the baseline that they needed to stay normal. Now, there is increasing use of -- or increasing criminal behavior by people who use drugs, prostitution for women and for young men and other men, and other criminal behavior as these people return to that high. That's why we can't go down this slippery trek of saying the exception Robert Downey, Jr, who hasn't harmed anyone to our knowledge other than himself. How about his family and the society that is looking... (CROSSTALK)BECKER: Why is that a slippery slope? I don't understand this.COSSACK: You know something, Rob, let me just interrupt both of you for a second because I want to bring in somebody who, at least by telephone with us who has had some first-hand knowledge, and has -- is in rehab now, and is someone that we all know and now certainly can look up to, former All-Pro linebacker Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson. Hollywood, you mind if I call you Hollywood. THOMAS "HOLLYWOOD" HENDERSON, FMR. NFL LINEBACKER: Oh, you can do that, if you would like. COSSACK: Thank you very much. Let me read to you a statement that came out of that same magazine that Robert Downey -- that interview that he gave in "Details" magazine, October 2000. He said: "I don't want to be a proponent of the system, but certain ideals have changed for me. The idea of a victimless crime, it's an oxymoron. I can't say that someone who is involved in addiction only victimizes themselves. It's not true. It's convenient. And people run with that. I ran with that as a way to deal with it." And that was Robert Downey talking about himself and talking about the issue of a victimless crime. Hollywood, you had problems. And you talk about it. And you lecture children now about doing away with drugs and staying clean and sober. Is it a victimless crime? HENDERSON: Well, family, and the mom, and sisters and brothers, people (INAUDIBLE) right now (INAUDIBLE)COSSACK: You know, I think, Hollywood, we are having a little problem. Let's do this. Let's see if we can work this out a little bit with our technical staff here for a second. Let's take a break. When we come back, let's see if we can get Hollywood Henderson on the phone. We got our other guests. Stay with us. Let's find out about this Robert Downey Jr. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)COSSACK: California voters passed a referendum to give nonviolent treatment, not jail, for drug possession or use. It also provides treatment instead of return to prison for nonviolent parolees who test positive for drug use.Well, we are back on TALKBACK LIVE. We're talking about drug addiction and Robert Downey Jr. And I think now joining me is Hollywood Henderson.Hollywood, are you there? HENDERSON: I'm here. COSSACK: Great. We were talking a little bit with you about the issue of a victimless crime. And Robert Downey said in an interview that he felt that it wasn't, that he used think it was a victimless crime. But now he is not so sure. This...HENDERSON: Well, let me say this. You know, when a guy is in the middle of his addiction and the middle of his troubles, you can't put any weight on what he says, any of his quotes. He is speaking from the position of addicted. But I do think that Robert Downey Jr. needs treatment, treatment and more treatment. COSSACK: Well, what kind of treatment does he need, Hollywood? I mean, he's had treatment in the past. It hasn't worked. What does it take to get to a point where he will be successful? HENDERSON: Well, I tell you what. I am going to volunteer. I would like to go spend a few days in his cell with him. You know, I did time in California. I have been sober off crack 17 years. And I think people who have been where he is and feeling the way he feels needs to try to get his attention. The judges, and the juries, and the district attorney, and the police are not going to give him the proper intervention that he needs.I don't think that a drug addict -- who has really not committed a crime against anybody's property or person -- should be in prison. And I (INAUDIBLE) anything I can for Robert Downey Jr. I hope somebody passes that on to him. I would love to go to California (INAUDIBLE) with Robert Downey Jr. COSSACK: All right, thank you, Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson, All-Pro linebacker who has been clean and sober, he says, for a number of years now, and certainly should be admired. Let me go talk to Evan from California -- Evan, you have a question. Let's -- I want to hear what you have to say. EVAN: Yes, is Robert Downey Jr. receiving any special treatment because he is a celebrity? COSSACK: You know, that is a very, very good question.Dr. Earley, what about it? I mean, do we feel more sorry for a Robert Downey Jr. because he is this man of immense talent than we would for someone else? Are we giving him more of a break than we would someone else? And he has money.EARLEY: He does have money. Speaking -- every person who is addicted needs to be treated specially. He needs to be treated specially. Someone that's homeless needs to be treated differently. The treatment for each individual is different and has to be tailored to that individual. The type of therapy he would require would be totally different than someone who is homeless and can't find a job.And what -- he does need special treatment. There's no doubt about that. He needs treatment in a place where people are used to taking care of people who are bright as he is, as complicated as he is, and as easy as he is at showing different faces to the world. That is what actors do best. COSSACK: All right, let me -- good point -- we have John from Michigan on the phone.John, you want to have a comment? Go ahead. CALLER: Yes, I would like to say that I am really tired of hearing about Robert Downey Jr. and his addiction problems. I think that the media has glamorized his problems. He is no different than a homeless person on the street that has a problem. And, quite frankly, if this guy wants to sit here and do drugs, I mean, let him. Obviously, he is addicted to it. He has been through treatment countless times. If he wants to sit there and do drugs, let him do drugs. And let's be done with this situation once and for all. There is a lot of -- there is a whole world out there of news. Let's quit worrying about Robert Downey Jr. and his drug problem.COSSACK: All right, good point. He says perhaps we in the media are perhaps glamorizing it. But it's a social issue. It's an issue that is not just for Robert Downey Jr. It certainly cuts across all forms of society.Doctor, I want to ask you what our police officer said earlier -- Gary Hankins said -- regarding his way of viewing the problem. Now, you know, Gary is a cop for 22 years, and saw an awful lot of life as a police officer. Gary's suggestion is somewhat different than yours. What do you respond to that?EARLEY: Well, my big bone -- my small bone to pick with him is that he is saying that addicts, on some level, bring it upon themselves. A lot of people in society -- the vast majority of people in society casually drink alcohol, for instance, but only a small percentage of those people go on to get addicted to drugs. We don't blame people that are diabetic and say: Well, you know, it's your fault. You brought the diabetes on...HANKINS: Just a moment. Just a moment, Doctor. You and I both know that diabetes is not a matter of choice. EARLEY: Neither is drug addiction. That is my whole point. HANKINS: Well, I don't agree with you. (CROSSTALK)EARLEY: Do they choose to be a drug addict?HANKINS: Sir, it were not a matter of choice, the NFL linebacker who just spoke with us would still be addicted.(CROSSTALK)EARLEY: That's not true. He made a choice at some point. BECKER: But he went through rehab. That's why he's not addicted anymore.EARLEY: He is sober he because he went through rehab. Exactly, Mr. Becker. He did not go through a legal situation to get sober. (CROSSTALK)COSSACK: Just a minute. Wait one second. I am calling it off here. I am now going to numbers. Gary, you are number one. Go ahead and finish your statement. HANKINS: On my way in today, I was looking at the local newspaper here in Washington. And there an obituary there about -- and I wish could remember the gentleman's name, but he was the first...BECKER: Joe Gilliam. HANKINS: ... black quarterback.BECKER: Yes, Joe Gilliam.HANKINS: He died. This was a man who had it all, who became addicted. And he lived his last two years underneath a bridge and died as a result of addiction. This was a man who had it all, who became addicted, and he lived his last two years underneath a bridge and died as a result of addiction. BECKER: No, he didn't. No, that's not what happened. HANKINS: According to what I read in the paper. Now, what I want to point out here is... BECKER: He did that right when he was addicted.COSSACK: Rob, I am going to let you ask want Gary to go ahead and finish.Go ahead, Gary, please. HANKINS: I would like to point out is we cannot afford, nor should we, to tolerate and even support behavior that is destructive to the individual and to the community. And if we begin legalizing drugs, and going along the path...EARLEY: Mr. Becker, nobody is arguing to legalize drugs.COSSACK: Go ahead. HANKINS: Alcoholics, and it is not their fault. If we go along the same line, and that is where we are headed. We are inching closer and closer to saying that this is a victimless crime, these individuals should not be held accountable, and they are different from alcoholics. How many people were killed by alcoholics last year, and how many will killed tomorrow?COSSACK: Let me go over to Rob Becker. Rob, go ahead and jump in, because doctor, I want you to know, I will give you equal time.Go ahead, Rob. BECKER: One, this is a guy who was turned on to drugs by his father at age 6. He has not harmed anyone. And he simply needs rehab.And what Mr. Hankins is saying, he would prefer to see this guy put in prison and rehabilitated. I don'T see the extra -- what do we gain extra from putting him in prison.To figure out whether we are getting anything extra for putting him in prison, think about what are the normal reasons why we punish anyone? First, we do it to deter them. Well, we said earlier in this program that Robert Downey can't be detered by prison.Two, we do it to deter other people. We are not going to deter hardened addicts by putting Downey away.Three, we do it to incapacitate him, but right now he is not hurting anybody else. So we don't need to do that.Four, we do it to get revenge on them. There is no point in getting revenge on someone who is hurting themselves. And the one other point is we were talking earlier with Hollywood Henderson, and the "Details" magazine quote about the other victims. The other victims are indeed his family, that is true, but those victims, unlike the normal victims of a crime, don't want him to be in prison. So if they don't want him to, why should we want to?COSSACK: All right. let me now go to the doctor. Doctor, we had a short time left, but if we run out of time, I am going to give you more when we come back. Having taken some of your time, go ahead. EARLEY: Thank you, Roger. My bone to pick with Mr. Becker is not that you use the legal system, it legal system is adjunct to treatment. But currently what is happening is prisons have taken over the work that used to be done in treatment, and the legal system is an added deterrent that will help an addict stay in recovery once they get there, but it will not moving them from a using state into a sober state, as revealed by Mr. Downey's quote about himself.So what you do first, and I am not arguing for legalizing drugs, I don't know where he got that idea, that is a strange notion. The first thing you do is you get him away from drugs, in a controlled environment for long enough, you get them to understanding themselves better. This is a guy that can wear as many masks as anyone on the planet. COSSACK: All right, let's take a break. When we come back, let's talk some more about Robert Downey Jr., let's talk a little bit about addiction. Is there anything that can be done, not just for Robert Downey Jr., but for everyone who has a drug problem. It seems like everyone knows someone who does. Stay with us.(COMMERCIAL BREAK)COSSACK; All right. We are back with more TALKBACK LIVE.We have a few seconds left so let me read some e-mails. One from Sharon in California says, "Downey needs rehab. I have heard that individuals go through numerous rehab programs before it finally takes. It is never hopeless," Sharon says.Finally, Renee says, "Robert has given me many hours of enjoyment over the years. He has a tremendous gift. He also has an illness that will take a lifetime of treatment. I think Robert needs our support, not punishment. He is in my prayers." That is Renee.And finally, I want to just say one thing to be clear. We talked a little bit earlier today about Joe Gilliam, the wonderful quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the first black quarterback in the National Football League. He died of a heart attack. And as far as anyone knows, it had nothing to do -- at least at this time, no one knows it had anything to do with drugs. But he did have a drug problem.That is all the time we have, Thanks to all of our guests, our studio audience, and you too for joining us. We will be back again tomorrow at 3:00 Eastern with more TALKBACK LIVE. I will be on "BURDEN OF PROOF" at 12:30. We will see you then, bye-bye.Source: CNN's TalkBack LivePublished: December 27, 2000Copyright: 2000 Cable News NetworkWebsite: December 27, 2000 - 3:00 p.m. ET What Should Happen To Robert Downey, Jr.?
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Comment #3 posted by freedom fighter on December 27, 2000 at 23:23:53 PT
Dw'an, welcome to the alice in the wonderdealand!
In the land of all deals where profanities do not exist at all! BowlS$%T, you say, I admire your nick and it is time for you to register your nick for it is so unique that no one should have it. of Gun, once you have registerd, welcome to the wonderdealand!
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Comment #2 posted by Dw'an on December 27, 2000 at 19:43:17 PT:
Let him do his thing!
Let him do his thing. He's not hurting anyone but himself, and he doesn't think there's anything wrong with it than why should we. People got life all screwed up. They'll walk right past a homeless family and not look at them twice. But they'll pull a rich junkie out his hotel room, and offer him rehab. I'm gonna end it there because it's hard to refrain from profanity over this.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on December 27, 2000 at 16:55:35 PT
CNN Crossfire Poll: Robert Downey Jr.
Hi everyone, Here is a current question about Robert Downey Jr. I don't know how long the question will be on the web site so you might want to check it out fairly quickly if you are interested. Robert Downey Jr. should be...Sent to prison  In drug treatment  Left alone
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