Review of The House I Live In Written & directed by Eugene Jarecki
Rating **** 1/2
It used to be that I would hear about a film or documentary and try in vain to find a venue where I could see or rent that particular film. This is changing with on demand video streaming. I am more than willing to pay to see films I am interested in. This film is a perfect example. I watched it on Amazon Prime as a rental for $3.99. It’s also available on many other streaming services, and I recommend you add this to your watch list.
This film covers the important topic of mandatory sentencing, with the focus on sentencing for drug offenses. Mandatory sentencing is a problem born out of the ignorance of politicians who pass laws without taking the time to consider the consequences of those laws. It has gotten to the point now that few politicians are willing to speak out about unfair sentencing and the impact that the warehousing of people has on our society. If they do, then they are considered weak. It’s the politicians who campaign as being tough on crime that win elections, thus perpetuating the problem. We aren’t making our communities safer. We are creating class warfare.
We as a nation imprison more of our own citizens than any other civilized country. And those we imprison are disproportionately composed of the poor and minorities. This film covers the topic in great detail: the history of mandatory sentencing, the war on drugs, the business of incarceration, the lack of logic behind the sentencing, the difficulty of those getting out of prison to find meaningful work due to their criminal record and lack of skills, the lack of opportunity that leads the poor into drugs, and the impact all of this has to the families of the incarcerated.
I’m a firm believer that if enough people become aware of a problem, they will help bring about the changes needed to correct that problem. Mandatory sentencing and the war on drugs is a problem. It’s not working and we need to identify it as a problem and come up with better solutions.
So watch this film. And the next time you hear a politician brave enough to say that we need to change the path were on, that we need to consult with experts, we need to put sentencing back in the hands of judges, then give that politician your vote. Putting a drug user away for life and then letting a murderer plea deal his way to a fifteen year sentence is just stupid.