Movie Review: “The House I Live In”

Oklahoman Modified: January 24, 2013 at 5:32 pm •  Published: January 25, 2013

While Ott's position on enforcement and mandatory minimum sentencing could be predicted, it's the striking candor of Mike Carpenter, the facility's chief of security, that provides some of the most memorable testimony in “The House I Live In.” Carpenter said in the film that in the current environment, the sheer number of convictions ensures that if “you build a bed, you fill a bed.” According to Jarecki, the country's prison population leads the world, with more than 2 million people incarcerated and a rising percentage serving time for drug-related offenses.

Above all else, the documentary illustrates how a system became entrenched and how political forces keep it in place: regardless of party affiliation, every U.S. president has carried through with the war on drugs started under Nixon, and Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were instrumental in escalating it. “The House I Live In” might not change policy, but by shedding light on the fine details of a hot-button issue, the film should start new discussions about how the multiple levels of the country's drug problem are addressed.

George Lang