Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, Eugene Jarecki’s The House I Live In builds a compelling case for the complete failure of America’s war on drugs. For the past forty years, the war on drugs has resulted in more than 45 million arrests, one trillion dollars in government spending, and America’s role as the world’s largest jailer. Yet for all that, drugs are cheaper, purer, and more available than ever. Filmed in more than twenty states, The House I Live In captures heart-wrenching stories from those on the front lines — from the dealer to the grieving mother, the narcotics officer to the senator, the inmate to the federal judge — and offers a penetrating look at the profound human rights implications of America’s longest war. The House I Live In premieres on Independent Lens, hosted by Stanley Tucci, on Monday, April 8, 2013 at 10 PM on WMHT.
The film recognizes drug abuse as a matter of public health, and investigates the tragic errors and shortcomings that have resulted from framing it as an issue for law enforcement. Beyond simple misguided policy, the film examines how political and financial corruption has fueled the war on drugs, despite persistent evidence of its moral, economic, and practical failures. The drug war in America has helped establish the largest prison-industrial system in the world, contributing to the incarceration of 2.3 million men and women — more than Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, and Iran combined — and is responsible for untold collateral damage to the lives of countless individuals and families. Instead of questioning a campaign of such epic cost and failure, those in public office generally advocate for harsher penalties for drug offenses, lest they be perceived as soft on crime.
But there’s a growing recognition among those on all sides that the war on drugs is a failure. At a time of heightened fiscal instability, the drug war is also seen as economically unsustainable. Beyond its human cost at home, the unprecedented violence in Mexico provides a daily reminder of the war’s immense impact abroad, and America has at last begun to take the first meaningful steps toward reform. At this pivotal moment, the film promotes public awareness of the problem while encouraging new and innovative pathways to domestic drug policy reform.
Premieres Monday, April 8, 2013 at 10 PM on WMHT