Jan 7, 2013
The House I Live In is a powerful movie about the “war on drugs” and its enormous human costs. It is well worth seeing.
The movie starts by showing how both drugs and the war on drugs have shattered the life of the filmmaker’s childhood caregiver, named Nannie Jeter.
We see police, prison guards, and even a judge express enormous frustration at their roles in this “war.” All of them realize they have helped shatter many lives and families by sending addicts to prison, and done nothing to reduce the damage caused by drugs themselves. One guard, who calls himself an advocate for law and order, even compares the mass incarceration of poor people for nonviolent drug crimes to genocide.
Since the 1970s, this “war” has accelerated under both Republicans and Democrats. It is the poorest layers of the population most severely hurt by it. For years, it’s obvious that wealthy middle class people caught with drugs don’t suffer the same consequences as the poor.
One of the most telling moments comes when David Simon, the creator of the TV show The Wire, explains how many corporations make enormous profits from the drug war and the mass incarceration of poor people with few job prospects. “All these Americans we don’t need anymore,” Simon paraphrases, “let’s see if we can make money off locking them up.” That sums up the attitude of this country’s capitalists toward the poor, and the rationale behind the continuing drug war.