‘The House I Live In’ Documents America’s Failed War on Drugs


Photo via Railroad Square Cinema

Want to see a film that could change the way you understand drug policy in the United States? A 50-minute version of The House I Live In, Eugene Jarecki’s stunning documentary that won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Festival, gets a special viewing on Monday at Hibernian Hall in Dudley Square. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with the filmmaker and with Harvard professor Charles Ogletree.

The film puts a human face on the brutality of United States drug laws and the disturbing reality that Black Americans are 13 percent of the U.S. population, 14 percent of drug users—and 57 percent of those incarcerated for drug crimes. Through the eyes of Jarecki, the documentary shows how his life ended up far differently than the life of the son of his family’s domestic worker, Nanny Jeter. We come to see how the drug war impacts America’s poor, and especially those in minority communities. But it’s the heartbreaking story of Nanny Jeter and her son that show the price paid by the drug war.

There are cameos in the film from Ogletree, Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness), David Simon (The Wire), and Julie Stewart, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimum, an organization that has been working for years to end policies like ones the film highlights. And the film has an impressive producing staff with the likes of Brad Pitt, Danny Glover, Russell Simmons, and John Legend.

When poverty leads to no jobs and people try to survive by selling drugs, where do we start to make change? Many politicians never get past the tip of this iceberg because the depth of the problem is not acknowledged. The film explores how these realities sell votes in our country where “tough on crime” is a mantra chanted by Democrats and Republicans alike. The House I Live In is a film that lawmakers need to see so they can repeal mandatory minimum sentences once and for all. And for the rest of us, it’s a chance to see what critics are calling “the documentary of the year.”


Free admission. Monday, February 11, 7-9 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Hibernian Hall, 184 Dudley St., Boston. More info at blackstonian.com.


Watch the trailer for The House I Live In: