Pin It
Favorite

The House We Live In 

Publisher's Note

click to enlarge art19172.jpg

Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease, but the trick is that it can take decades to find out. Now the evidence is in and our nation’s 40-year “War on Drugs” has proven a failure. The tally is grim: 2.3 million Americans in jail, with another 5 million “in the system” of correctional supervision. That’s the highest in the world — more than even China’s 1.6 million jailed out of a population a billion people larger than ours. And we failed on the disease, too, as the availability of drugs has never been higher, according to the Department of Justice.

But sometimes facts can be too clinical — Uncle Tom’s Cabin changed perceptions of slavery the way no statistic ever could. That’s why Eugene Jarecki’s haunting documentary, The House I Live In, is so important. His Sundance Grand Prize winner not only feeds you facts, but it slugs you in the gut with human pain — so many lives have been ruined by our “cure.”

The film, which just debuted on PBS, plays like the backstory to the HBO drug war epic, The Wire. And David Simon, creator of The Wire and a journalist who covered the drug war in Baltimore, leaves you gasping for air when he observes matter-of-factly that our drug war is “a holocaust in slow motion” — that our jails have become something like concentration camps for the least among us. It’s a chilling indictment of a collective wrong that needs righting.

Violent crime does attend the drug trade, but too many people are in jail for life over possession of small amounts on a “third strike.” In the years since Richard Nixon announced the war on drugs as a way to get re-elected, and especially after Ronald Reagan and Congress stepped on the gas with mandatory minimum sentencing rules, a prison industrial complex has arisen and become deeply enmeshed in our economy. It feeds on desperate people making mistakes, and we have a steady supply.

There must always be jails for those who deserve to be locked up. But as The House I Live In shows, we’re way past that.

Elected officials are not going to change anything; the chance to get tough on crime is like catnip. It’s going to be up to the citizens to attack this with common sense and compassion. How? We need to get back to traditional justice and away from mandatory sentencing. We have to treat drug abuse as a sickness, not a crime. And we must somehow start to dismantle the mass incarceration operation being undertaken in all of our names. 

Tags:

  • Pin It

Latest in Comment

  • Put Kids First
  • Put Kids First

    Why adults in Olympia must come together to pass the Early Start Act
    • May 27, 2015
  • Teacher Of Generations
  • Teacher Of Generations

    Publisher's Note
    • May 27, 2015
  • A Persistent Life
  • A Persistent Life

    Scott Reed won more cases than he lost in life, and the beauty of the Coeur d'Alene area has been the beneficiary
    • May 27, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed
30th Annual ArtFest

30th Annual ArtFest @ Coeur d'Alene Park

May 29-31

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Ted S. McGregor Jr.

Most Commented On

  • This Old House

    If it could talk, it could tell stories of three generations, along with a lot of griping from neighbors
    • Apr 29, 2015
  • On a Roll

    Just-announced reforms do little to safeguard Spokane against the danger of oil trains
    • May 6, 2015
  • More »

© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation