Pubdate: Mon, 08 Apr 2013
Source: New York Daily News (NY)
Copyright: 2013 Daily News, L.P.
Author: David Hinckley, TV Critic
Page: 36


Film Rips Waste of Time & Money

ONE OF Hollywood's biggest challenges in recent years has been 
finding bad guys - that is, groups of people who can still be safely vilified.

"The House I Live In," an angry, somber and sobering documentary by 
Eugene Jarecki, argues that politicians face the same dilemma. It 
finds they have resolved it by convincing the rest of us that "drug 
dealers" and "drug users" are responsible for much of what we don't 
like about the way things are.

As a result, says Jarecki in this extensive documentary, politicians 
sold us a "war on drugs" that has cost billions of dollars, thrown 
away hundreds of thousands of people and done nothing to improve American life.

As first declared by then President Richard Nixon, Jarecki notes, the 
"war on drugs" was largely focused on treatment for addicts. Before 
Nixon left office, however, it became clear there was less political 
mileage in helping people with drug problems than in locking them up.

Jarecki isn't the first to suggest the war on drugs has become a war 
on the poor and minorities, particularly black folks. Black and white 
people have about the same rate of crack addiction, for instance, but 
90% of the inmates locked up for crack violations are black.

Jarecki aggregates a lot of arguments, including the cost and success 
rate of drug treatment vs. the cost and success rate of tossing 
offenders into prison.

"The House I Live In" makes no pretense of offering equal time to 
defenders of "war on drugs" policies. The whole notion is madness, 
Jarecki argues, and the sooner we change direction, the sooner we 
might actually start to solve "the drug problem," instead of turning 
the prison system into one of the country's most reliable growth industries.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom