The House I Live In

The House I Live In

About the Film

For the past 40 years, the war on drugs has resulted in more than 45 million arrests, $1 trillion dollars in government spending, and America’s role as the world’s largest jailer. Yet for all that, drugs are cheaper, purer, and more available than ever. Filmed in more than twenty states, The House I Live In captures heart-wrenching stories of those on the front lines — from the dealer to the grieving mother, the narcotics officer to the senator, the inmate to the federal judge — and offers a penetrating look at the profound human rights implications of America’s longest war. MORE

The film recognizes drug abuse as a matter of public health, and investigates the tragic errors and shortcomings that have resulted from framing it as an issue for law enforcement. It also examines how political and financial corruption has fueled the war on drugs, despite persistent evidence of its moral, economic, and practical failures. The drug war in America has helped establish the largest prison-industrial system in the world, contributing to the incarceration of 2.3 million men and women and is responsible for untold collateral damage to the lives of countless individuals and families, with a particularly destructive impact on black America.

“It’d be one thing if it was draconian and it worked. But it’s draconian and it doesn’t work. It just leads to more,” says David Simon, creator of the HBO series, The Wire.

Instead of questioning a campaign of such epic cost and failure, those in public office generally advocate for harsher penalties for drug offenses, lest they be perceived as soft on crime. Thanks to mandatory minimum sentencing, a small offense can put a nonviolent offender behind bars for decades — or even life. Many say these prisoners are paying for fear instead of paying for their crime.

“If you stand in a federal court, you’re watching poor and uneducated people being fed into a machine like meat to make sausage. It’s just bang, bang, bang, bang. Next!” says journalist Charles Bowden.

But there’s a growing recognition among those on all sides that the war on drugs is a failure. At a time of heightened fiscal instability, the drug war is also seen as economically unsustainable. Beyond its human cost at home, the unprecedented violence in Mexico provides a daily reminder of the war’s immense impact abroad, and America has at last begun to take the first meaningful steps toward reform. At this pivotal moment, the film promotes public awareness of the problem while encouraging new and innovative pathways to domestic drug policy reform.

The Filmmaker

Eugene Jarecki

Eugene Jarecki’s recent film Reagan received wide critical acclaim after premiering at the Sundance Film Festival and on HBO for the occasion of the 40th president’s 100th birthday. In 2010, Jarecki directed Freakonomics, a documentary inspired by the bestselling book. His film Why We Fight won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, as well as the 2006 Peabody Award. Jarecki’s prior film,The Trials of Henry Kissinger, was also released to critical acclaim. Winner of the 2002 Amnesty International Award, the film was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award.


Film Credits

Persons shown in this film are not necessarily involved in
the use or sale of illegal drugs. Persons shown being arrested or
questioned by police may subsequently have been released
without being charged, or may have been acquitted of all charges.

A Film by Eugene Jarecki

Executive Producers
Joslyn Barnes
Nick Fraser
Danny Glover

Executive Producers
John Legend
Brad Pitt
Russel Simmons

Edited by
Paul Frost

Produced by
Eugene Jarecki
Melinda Shopsin

Written and Directed by
Eugene Jarecki

Directors of Photography
Sam Cullman
Derek Hallquist

Music by
Robert Miller

Executive Producers
Roy Ackerman
David Alcaro

Sam Cullman
Christopher St. John

Archival Producer
Daniel DiMauro

Shirel Kozak

Consulting Producer
Alexandra Johnes

Production Manager
Kara Elverson

Technical Supervisor
Joe Beirne

Music Supervisor
John McCullough

Additional Editing
Simon Barker
Anoosh Tertzakian
Daniel DiMauro

Key Advisor
Claudia Becker

Additional Writing
Christopher St. John

Production Design
Joe Posner

Kathleen Fournier
Alessandra Meyer

Additional Camera
Etienne Sauret
Joe Di Gennaro
Christopher Li
Christopher St. John
Matt Boyd
Taylor Krauss
David Sperling
Kathryn Westergaard
Lili Chin
Joe Posner
Robert Hatch-Miller

Sound Recordists
Matthew Freed
Timothy McConville
Arthur R. Jaso

Head Researcher
Daniel DiMauro

Shirel Kozak
Christopher St. John
Meg Charlton
Anoosh Tertzakian
Patrick O'Brien
Nora Colie
Julia Simpson

Second Assistant Editors
Robert Hatch-Miller
Patrick O'Brien

Field Correspondents
Melinda Shopsin
Christopher St. John
Kara Elverson
Kathleen Fournier

Creative Consultants
Ed Eglin
Nora Jaccaud
David Kuhn
Peter Schmidt-Nowara

Production Assistants
Patrick O'Brien
Ben Cortes
Sophia Figuereo
Akil Gibbons

Production Interns
Isabelle Fraser
Ian Geenspan

Motion Graphics
Joe Posner

Post-Production Supervisor
Melinda Shopsin

Post-Production Services

Colorist/Online Editor
Benjamin Murray

Re-recording Mixer
Christopher Koch, CAS

Dialog Editor
Ron Bochar

Transcription Services
Irina Grobman
Karen Holmes
Liza Mueller
Scott Rogowsky
Rachel Young

Legal Counsel
The Law Firm of Rosalind Lichter

E&O Legal Counsel
F. Robert Stein

Production Accountants
Hermes Laoudas
Yelena Kirzhner

Piano and Orchestration
Robert Miller

Jonathan Dinklage

Nylon Acoustic Guitar
Peter Calo

Music Mixers/Engineers
Chris Kedzie
Nick Tuttle

Music Production Coordinator
Megan Kate Campbell

Additional Score
Pete Miser

Production Support
Get Lifted Films

Archival Material Courtesy of
ABC News VideoSource
AV Geeks
Blowback Productions
C-SPAN Video Library
California Historical Society
Critical Past
Das Bundesarchiv
Footage Farm
Free Library of Philadelphia, Map Collection
Getty Images
Global Image Works, LLC
Hash King HK Fontay
Hi-Def Express
ITN Source
J. Fred MacDonald & Associates
Library of Congress
National Archives at College Park, Maryland
NBC News Archives
Oddball Films
Paris Police Department, Texas
Producer's Library
San Diego History Center
Stanley B. Burns, MD, and the Burns Achive
The Bancroft Library
The CONUS Archive
The Film Gate LLC
The Museum of Broadcast Communications
The WPA Film Library
Thought Equity

Newspaper or network logos on news clips do not necessarily indicate authorization
to use such clips or an endorsement of this film by any newspaper or network.

Special Thanks
Andrea Barron
Paul Butler
Mary Clark
The Defender Association
Drug Policy Alliance
Families Against Mandatory Minimums
Christopher Frierson
April Frost
Jennifer Gill
Todd Himmelrecih
Reginald Hines
Joy Holloway
Andrew Jarecki
Johanna Jarecki
Jonas Jarecki
Henry Jarecki
Tom Jarecki
Justin Jones
Andrew lampert
Melody Lee
Stanley Lefkowitz
Marc Levin
Mike Mashon
Miami-Dade Police
Dana O'Keefe
Jean Oelwang
Oklahoma Department of Corrections
PAL Television East
Mathew Palevsky
Portland Hotel Society
Josh Posner & Eileen Rudden
Monica Pratt Raffanel
Susan Rockefeller
James Rudek
Gabriel Sayegh
Gwen Schantz
Seattle Police Department
The Sentencing Project
Tamara Shopsin
Tom Tierney
John Van Hook
Melvin Van Peebles
Kyle Wilson

Commissioning Editor for BBC Storyville
Nick Fraser

Commissioning Editor for ZDF/ARTE
Hans Robert Eisenhauer

Executive Producer for ITVS
Sally Jo Fifer

Production assistance provided by SBS-TV Australia, Louverture,
Al Jazeera Documentary Channel, VPRO, SVT and YLE.

Funding Provided by
Ford Foundation
MEDIA Programme of the European Union
Fledgling Fund

The House I Live In is a co-production of Charlotte Street Films,
the Independent Television Service (ITVS), BBC, ZDF/ARTE,
produced in association with NHK Japan,
with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

This program was produced by Charlotte Street Films which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2012 Charlotte Street Films. All rights reserved.

There’s a growing recognition that the drug war the U.S. has been fighting in the last four decades must change. What do you think should be changed, if anything?


  • 2012 Sundance Film Festival
    Grand Jury Prize
  • 2013 George Foster Peabody Award
    Award Winner
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There’s a growing recognition that the drug war the U.S. has been fighting in the last four decades must change. What do you think should be changed, if anything?