America's history of waging wars on abstract concepts hasn't worked out too well for us, with terror, drugs, and poverty proving far more resilient than our politicians gave them credit for when they made their poll-boosting declarations against them. However, none of those battles has been as flagrantly destructive on a domestic scale or as questionably motivated as the war on drugs that Richard Nixon kicked off during his presidency and which has failed to make any real dent in the issue since then. The House I Live In examines the serious faults of the American approach to "defeating" drugs and the sorry state of affairs our losing strategies have left our country in. Eugene Jarecki's thorough and in-depth film examines the issue from political, social, and ethical perspectives, and his findings are enlightening but also very disheartening.
You might think the war on drugs began in the 70s, but really that's just when the current rhetoric kicked in; in fact Americans have been warring against substance abuse since the first time we decided there was a minority (in this case the Chinese) that was stealing jobs from white folks. Instead of arresting them for being Chinese, we looked at their substance of choice, made it illegal, and then arrested them. We've continued this process throughout history, and now we have a system where the black community of the United States makes up over 90% of the prison population despite only doing about 13% of the drugs.
Our system is broken, and the price low-income communities are paying until it gets fixed is far too high. In the meanwhile, privatized prisons spring up to capitalize on the influx of convicts arrested and tried for crimes that should land them in rehab centers and not behind bars. Jarecki talks with inmates, prison guards, police officers, judges, family members, and virtually anyone else affected by America's current judicial failing on the matter of drugs, and the same opinion is held by all of them: we're treating a symptom and ignoring the cause and actual problem.
The House I Live In is a brilliant start towards getting people to discuss the problem and how to fix it, and it's the kind of inspiring testimonial that just might push someone to enter politics to create a proper solution that finally gets to the heart of the matter while understanding that seeking to stop the cycle is not the same as "being soft on crime".
DVD Bonus Features
There are none.
"The House I Live In" is on sale July 2, 2013 and is not rated. Crime, Documentary. Directed by Eugene Jarecki. Written by Eugene Jarecki, Christopher St. John.