Just Say No More | Movie Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Just Say No More 

Eugene Jarecki's documentary The House I Live In exposes the hopelessness and racism of the drug war

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The house these guys live in is a big house with high, gray walls, lots of metal upholstery . . .

The house these guys live in is a big house with high, gray walls, lots of metal upholstery . . .

No one can accuse Eugene Jarecki of thinking small: his masterful 2005 documentary Why We Fight took on no less than the military-industrial complex, and his new one plunges into the 40-year, $1 trillion war on drugs. Jarecki rides with dealers and with cops, questioning judges and prison workers, and though everyone seems to hate this futile war, no one has a clue how to end it. That's because the war itself has become an American economic engine, funding an exploding prison-industrial complex that's sustained by mandatory-minimum sentencing and racially targeted drug laws. Jarecki's case is so compelling that, when he concludes by comparing the drug war to the Holocaust, the obvious charge of hyperbole doesn't quite stick: the controlling factor may be class instead of race, but in both cases the objective is to eradicate a large swath of society.

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