The House I Live In (2012) Poster

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10/10
"Free" Enterprise at It's Finest
zippyflynn213 October 2012
What's really fueling this law and order hysteria and the draconian prison sentences for relatively minor, innocuous and even non-existent "crimes" is the extraordinarily profitable Prison for Profit system. What's interesting and extremely frightening is most Americans are oblivious to it. Combine this with a large number of the public being largely uneducated and on a continual sadistic hunt for scapegoats, those who profiteer on the modern day slave trade have a willing public as unwitting accomplices.

It's interesting the director, Eugene Jarecki, also did "Why We Fight", one of the best documentaries to expose the crimes being committed by the blood money Military Industrial Complex. The public is also largely oblivious to that evil profiteering monster and also happily supports it to the point it thinks murdering and dying for it is a good thing. Jarecki makes some of the most important and enlightening documentaries of today. It's an alarming shame and tragedy that the predominately ignorant and not very mentally healthy general public aren't watching them, let alone able to comprehend how it hurts everyone except the bank accounts of sociopathic "business" men and women.

Perhaps the common denominator is the same fuel that's driving half of the present day voters in the Presidential election: hatred and the eternal search for scapegoats. It would make an excellent documentary to tie these core driving forces together, a task I think Mr. Jarecki is capable of doing well. It probably won't make much of an impact beyond preaching to the choir but then again none of his other fine offerings have fared much better and those are still greatly appreciated by thoughtful and humane audiences.
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8/10
Well-crafted advocacy piece with a few distracting flaws.
Nick Farr19 September 2012
The House I Live In is a very informative work of advocacy that's only thinly masquerading as a documentary. It's a more reformed, nuanced version of a Michael Moore piece that has a clear point of advocacy aimed squarely at whatever practical center still exists. It doesn't hit you over the head with a message or misleading facts but squarely lets you arrive at the conclusion that the drug war has failed.

It's not an anti-corporate rant with a clear villain to rally against. I left thinking that there was enough material and story there to easily fill a mini-series or a Ken Burns style documentary without getting preachy or creating fatigue.

It has enlightening and entertaining moments, but there are many flaws in the storytelling. Many characters are introduced, many of which with too much or not enough background, and seem to float around their promised purpose without really landing at a point or purpose. (Given the ending theme of the work, perhaps this is intentional.)

David Simon's incredibly powerful monologues bring a saving grace to moments in the film that tend to struggle, especially moments where the director awkwardly inserts himself into the film.

Unlike a lot of similar works, you could probably take your Republican parents to see it without the evening being automatically ruined.

Unlike almost every other advocacy piece I've seen, it achieves its goal of starting a conversation, rather than ending one.
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10/10
The House I Live In
kmartin10814 October 2012
This is a compelling documentary. Please see it. The drug war that results in mass incarceration is probably the most critical emerging issue of our time. If you care about humanity, and if you care about the economics of our country, then go see this film.

The filmmakers seamlessly describe the complexities that underly the drug war and mass incarceration. Then they show the devastating unintended consequences of this misguided policy approach. Finally, they raise important questions that will help to craft a new way forward.

I am going to do my part to get as many people that I can to see this film. I'm posting it on Facebook, I'm writing reviews, and I'm telling people about it in my capacity as a trainer in child welfare.

The filmmakers deserve a huge thank you for calling out the ugly truth of the drug war in a way that we can understand it, and do something about it.
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10/10
The Slow-Motion Holocaust
winst11 November 2012
If you've been a student of most public schools you've learned about slavery.

There's a lyric I remember that says "I hate it when they tell us how far we came to be - as if our peoples' history started with slavery." Well, the history of subjugating minorities has not ENDED with slavery either, and retrospective condemnation of racism serves the purpose to perpetuate the racism embedded and invested in our country today.

The most important mistake is to confuse failure with success in regards to the apparent shortcomings of our establishment. I again use the example of public schools because the recent documentary "Waiting for Superman" did a fantastic job in addressing the "failures" of schools to educate children. It takes a book like James Lowen's Lies My Teacher Told Me to recognize the grand success of our school's indoctrination process: to teach obedience, not intelligence. It takes a documentary like The House I Live In to vocalize the airtight success of our administration in conducting the 41 years' drug war.

Logic should compute. If more money has been spent (a trillion dollars since the '70s,) the prison population has skyrocketed (2.4 million people incarcerated) and no progress has been made in keeping drugs off the streets, (similarly with our schools, with reform after reform we continue to perform beneath the feet of most industrialized countries,) you have to start looking at things a little differently. It is hard to see the exit of the maze when walking within its walls. This documentary helps to see things from the outside.

This film brings to light a lot of revealing facts that have been swept under the rug, like how opium wasn't an issue until Chinese started climbing the success latter in San Francisco, or how the police in border states can directly siphon the money from drug busts to reward their outfit. Mostly, it encourages a comparison between the way minorities have been apprehended with drug abuse and the apprehension of whites (who hold equal if not higher drug abuse statistics but make up a minority of the prison population.) And it encourages comparison between past, mass scale subjugation (often with eventual extermination) and, to quote the film, the slow-motion holocaust happening in our own country.

It recognizes the drug epidemic as an economic issue and a medical issue, not a racial issue. It recognizes the drug WAR as the glaring rash of vibrant racism, and the brutal front of a class war in a society where profits come first, human beings second. More to this point, it eludes to the country's prime motivation, net gain and increased GDP, and the plethora of companies from Sprint Mobile to GM to privatized prisons such as CCA, all of whom depend on the drug war to maintain stock value.

To quote ousted investigative journalist and ex-LAPD narcotics officer Michael Ruppert, "A snake eating its own tail is not nutritious."

Though it is outside the periphery of the film's focus and beyond the pale even for a documentary of this substance, the issue of international drug trafficking, and facilitation it has received, at times, from both the financial sector and intelligence agency of our country, was never brought to light in this film. Despite whether this topic is to be written off as conspiracy theory or submitted for further analysis, a film that introduces our economy's dependence on drug dependence and the targeting of minorities in an everlasting drug war, has a duty to at least address the controversy. I suggest raising the question on discussion boards and at Q&As, as my screening was lucky enough to have.

We live in a country that is infested with racism, now as much as any other time. Our economy depends on it, and the drug war has fertilized it. It is time to end it.
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A must-see documentary
rogerdarlington19 January 2013
In 40 years, of America's 'war on drugs', more than 45 million arrests have been made. The approach has made the United States the world's largest jailer with almost 2.3 million individuals incarcerated. This means that the USA has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world with about 1% of all adults in jail. African Americans comprise less than 14% of the US population but almost 40% of those in prison. Hispanic Americans comprise just over 16% of the US population but around 20% of those in prison. African American males are jailed at about six times the rate of white males and three times the rate of Hispanic males.

Against this background, Eugene Jarecki has written, produced and directed this striking documentary examining the impact of the war on drugs in America. Starting with the black woman who was his childhood nanny, he interviews an eclectic cast of characters with different experiences of the problem: the drug dealer, the policeman, the judge, the prison guard, the life prisoner with no chance of parole, and – most eloquent of all – the creator of the television series "The Wire".

Until recently, the drug problem has been seen by many Americans as a black and brown issue and the strong emphasis on enforcement measures, with a growing use of mandatory minimum sentences, has led to a swollen ethnic prison population that, for many whites, has swept the problem off the streets and out of sight. But the availability of different drugs and the loss of manufacturing jobs has led to more white, working class men being caught up in this destruction of both personalities and communities. So, at its core, this is not an issue of ethnicity but one of poverty.

The film argues that the policies of the last four decades have failed and need to be fundamentally rethought. Drug use should be considered as less an issue of criminal justice and more a matter of public health. Many drug users are not evil or selfish but victims of poverty and deprivation who are trying to find some income where there is little employment and some solace when life is so miserable.

This is a stunning documentary that raises profound issues – and not just for Americans. It will not be an easy film to see at the cinema, so catch it on television (as I did) or buy or rent it.
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10/10
Best Drug and Prison Documentary I Have Ever Seen
jason-leonidas198430 September 2013
This needs to be seen by every law officer, every judge, every college student and beyond. This is a VERY powerful documentary that doesn't just paint a black and white picture telling us that drugs are acceptable or that drugs are bad, it talks about the HUNDREDS of elements which make up the complex drug and prison system we know of today.

Some of the top minds in the industry on both sides give the best and most insightful talks, this has really been an eye opening film for me.

I wish I could mass produce this DVD for free and mail it to every citizen of the US. We need to change this system, it's broken and heading down a very scary path. Most people think that drugs and prisons don't affect them so why bother with the issue, you couldn't be any more wrong. Thousands of times a day the authorities are searching people and seizing property without due process, many times never finding anything. A man was killed after a raid and nothing was found. This IS RELEVANT TO ALL CITIZENS OF America. The Constitution is our savings grace, don't let it burn to ash along with your freedom.

Please watch this, even if you don't agree with everything, I feel like you can still learn something and apply it to your community and the ballet box to make a positive change in the right direction.
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9/10
A Moving and Informative Introduction to the Untold Story of the Drug War
Sourik Beltran17 April 2013
The House I Live In takes the complex issue of the failed war on drugs and breaks it down to a level that is both digestible and striking nonetheless. The film provides substantial historical evidence to make a powerful argument against the American war on drugs. The House I Live In exposes the many flaws of current anti-drug policies and strategies from a multitude of perspectives, drawing from historians and academics to front- of-the-line law enforcement and correctional officers alike. The film brilliantly ties these perspectives in a way that can effectively inspire viewers from all backgrounds to take a stand in confronting this largely unrecognized national issue.

The film provides an impressively broad set of data and evidence that cohesively screams one message—the war on drugs is a failure to the American public. As the first film focused solely on the subject, The House I Live In is undoubtedly one of the decade's most important films.
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9/10
Mama Tried
valis194913 July 2013
THE HOUSE I LIVE IN (dir. Eugene Jarecki)

America has more of its citizens behind bars than in any other nation on the planet, and we presently have more Blacks incarcerated than were slaves in the Confederate States of America during the 1850's. And, America's misguided approach to the issue of illegal drugs is the single most important reason why so many of us are in prison.

These are only a couple of startling revelations from Eugene Jarecki's riveting documentary about America's terribly misguided War On Drugs. Clearly we have chosen to solve a health issue by creating a ridiculous legal and political policy based on an oxymoron called, 'the criminal justice system'. Racial scapegoating and a system based on 'prisons for profit' have allowed us to spend billions, yet more people use illegal drugs today than when the drug war first began. And, the quality of these drugs is infinitely superior.

No one, not the authorities or the criminals, seem to be satisfied with the status quo, and readily admit that the whole affair is an abject failure. But, the film shows how this suicidal social policy remains locked in place with no end in sight. Politicians campaign on making this nation drug free, and addiction rates soar and we can't seem to build jails quickly enough to fill them.

If there was ever a solution that was immeasurably worse than the problem, it is The War On Drugs. ABSOLUTE MUST SEE
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8/10
Our deadening country.
peacecreep2 April 2013
Eugene Jarecki's frightening and important film is a thorough investigation of the prison industrial complex and the "war on drugs" i.e. the war on poor people. It's a fair and balanced look at how it subsidizes thousands of jobs and locks up millions of innocent people. Unfortunately he misses a key argument against this war: adults should have the right to sovereignty over their consciousness. Drugs are slightly demonized throughout- the fact that the drugs themselves are inherently good- its people with no self control that give them a bad name- is never explored. Regardless, this is a fascinating look into a sick society in a dead and deadening country. Recommended.
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8/10
Good look at the pros and cons of the drug war, it feeds off of class, race, culture and society.
Danny Blankenship14 November 2012
No matter what side of the drug war your on even if you want legalization or the total ban of all drugs, one thing for sure it's an interesting and tough topic that splits many. "The House I Live In" the eye opening new documentary from Eugene Jarecki looks at the many sides of U.S. drug policy and how it interacts and feeds off one another from the street dealer to the narcotics officer to the inmate and federal judge. It's true that the use of illegal drugs has destroyed many countless lives, yet still the media, and political people have overblown the drug problem into a money making business. Making the jobs of law enforcement employees very hard as much of their focus is now on fighting drugs instead of trying to solve more important crimes like murder. And the lock up rate has grown crazy as the U.S. now has 25% of the world's prison population. It's an easy game lock up someone quick and easy for a drug possession crime and spend more tax payer money build more prisons and more lock ups as prison and crime is now a money making machine that makes a job for someone. As evidenced from the correctional officer that was interviewed during this doc.

Even more revealing is how Eugene Jarecki examines the history of drugs and how it's always been more the case that the poor and those that are black will be arrested for drug crimes. It's clear that many that live in a race and culture of downtrodden ridden history and black have simply became a statistical number for law enforcement to arrest. All while politicians on both side profit and get fat from fighting the drug war. Clearly they don't understand they need to stop locking people up for small drug offenses to save prison space for more serious criminals. Overall good doc that questions the way we are handling business in fighting the drug war it's educational and thought provoking no matter what your stance on the drug policy is.
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