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The House I Live In (4 stars)

Angry and illuminating documentary about America's war on drugs

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The House I Live In

Director Eugene Jarecki, the brother of fellow filmmaker Andrew, attacks America’s failed war on drugs in this angry and illuminating documentary that will leave viewers clued-in but fuming.

Jarecki’s contention is the multi-billion dollar campaign against drugs funded by successive US administrations is not just ineffective, but is actually a cynical ploy to create work for the police, the courts, the prison system and the construction companies that build the penitentiaries. Instead of spending tax-payers’ money on drug education and rehab (far-sighted programmes which do not go down at all well with either the press or much of their readership, ie the voting public), Jarecki contends that the US government plows cash into law enforcement, which looks more attractive to the press and the public. The result is the targeting of black and poor white American drug users, who are the easiest marks, and who have now swelled America’s prison population to the largest in the world. Jarecki goes further still by suggesting that the origins of this bogus war on drugs date back to 19th century racial intolerance and that the only way to tackle the problem is to radically reassess America’s past with a view to radically changing its present.

Jarecki’s arguments, presented as a very personal response to the war on drugs, are unashamedly those of a left-wing libertarian. They are also enormously compelling and extremely convincing. And his thesis is backed up by various impressive interviewees, most notably David Simon, the former campaigning journalist who dramatised his own war on drugs through his hugely successful TV show The Wire. Tellingly, Simon, who is as eloquent as he is informed, is absolutely seething about the shameful state of his nation. Sadly, it doesn’t look like there’s much chance of things changing for the better, despite the outcome of the recent presidential election.

Selected release from Fri 23 Nov.

The House I Live In

  • 4 stars
  • 2012
  • US
  • 108 min
  • Directed by: Eugene Jarecki

This documentary on America's war on drugs comes from Eugene Jarecki, brother of fellow documentarian Andrew.

Elsewhere on the web

The House I Live in Trailer - In UK Cinemas 23rd November

Comments

1. Malcolm Kyle17 Dec 2012, 1:58pm Report

Prohibitionists literally don't give a damn about the welfare of individual citizens. That's you, me and everyone you care about. They don't care even when their policy means destroying the economy or bank-rolling criminals and terrorists. The prohibitionist onslaught appears to be simply a war directed at all of us.

America it is time to wake up. Prohibition is a cultural and economic assault on your money, on your careers, on your ability to put food on the table, have shelter, cloth yourself, and even survive or self-medicate. The fiscal cliff isn't the crisis. Prohibitionist control over America's politics and government is.

During alcohol prohibition, all profits went to enrich criminals and corrupt politicians. Young men died every day on inner-city streets while battling over turf. A fortune was wasted on enforcement that could have gone on education, etc. On top of the budget-busting prosecution and incarceration costs, billions in taxes were lost. Finally, the economy collapsed. Sound familiar?

Prohibitionists and their criminal friends —who live in a crack-house called Congress— are having a ball, and it's all on our tab!

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