Eugene Jarecki on His Drug-War Doc The House I Live In and Why Prohibition is Doomed


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"We've been at this war for 40 years, we've spent a trillion dollars on it, we've had 45 million drug arrests, and what do we have to show for it? It's a failure on every level," says filmmaker Eugene Jarecki, whose new drug war documentary is called The House I Live In.

Jarecki is best known for Why We Fight (2005), which looks at the role of the U.S. military-industrial complex in leading us to wage war, and The Trials of Henry Kissinger (2001), which considers whether the former secretary of state is guilty of war crimes and is based on a book by Christopher Hitchens with the same title.

In The House I Live In, Jarecki makes a case that the war on drugs has turned into a war on the underclass, leading to the mass incarceration of ordinary people guilty of victimless crimes. The film follows several characters caught up in different aspects of the drug war, including an Oklahoma corrections officer, a reform-minded judge, a working dealer, a group of Providence drug cops, a man serving life-without-parole for selling 3 ounces of meth, and a Columbia University neuroscientist who both studies how drugs affect the brain and has a son facing drug charges.

Reason magazine Editor in Chief Matt Welch sat down with Jarecki to talk about the making of the film and why he thinks a growing, cross-partisan consensus is poised to bring the drug war to an end. "Whether it's Brad Pitt, Grover Norquist, Jay-Z—even Pat Roberts spoke out against the drug war," says Jarecki. "The public voice rises and rises until it outweighs the ever more hollow rhetoric coming out of the political class and the corporate class, who are really just clinging to this thing because it's profitable to themselves."

The House I Live In is now in theaters nationwide and you can see a trailer here.

Reason's extensive coverage of the drug war and its victims can found here.

About 9 minutes.

Shot, edited, and produced by Jim Epstein; additional camera by Anthony Fisher.

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