I finally got The House I Live In from my Netflix queue last week. I tweeted several times about it, but I just feel like this subject deserves more light (hashtag search on twitter) since a quarter of our prison population (still the highest per capita of any country in the world) 500,000 people, are held for non-violent drug offenses.
As the film goes into at great length, the drug war really isn’t about drugs, it is about poverty and race; as drugs used by poor immigrant minorities are almost always the target until you get to the modern day and methamphetamine. It still targets the poor, but now those poor are largely white people.
The film lends weight to President Obama’s (belated) recent move to offer clemency to people convicted and sentenced under harsh mandatory minimum drug laws that had people being put away for life for possession of a few ounces of cocaine. Those of us interested in justice on this subject continue to hope that this turns into more than a PR stunt.
Did you know “meth mouth” is fake? Or that meth has the same effect on the brain as Adderall? Oh, you probably think crack cocaine addicts can’t think rationally, but actually they can…and they do! Columbia Professor Dr. Carl Hart sits down with Chris Hayes for an extended interview to debunk the myths we buy into surrounding drug addiction.
I struggled with getting a version of the All-In interview to show up on the blog through several edits. Luckily I stumbled across Dr. Hart’s Youtube channel in the process. While looking for linkable video that would actually play in a blog format, I found this video of him on TYT.
Yea, it’s an hour, so sue me (Youtube video should be under 5 minutes, purportedly) He’s a very engaging speaker, and he has a story to tell. What kind of story? Well, how about the fact that Philip Seymour Hoffman would still be alive today had we actually invested in a proper drug education program all those years ago when Nixon decided to declare his racist war on drugs.
The thing to remember about the drug war is, it isn’t our first attempt at prohibition; and the first attempt wasn’t a success, either. Contrary to popular belief, it appears that jury nullification ended up being the death knell of alcohol prohibition, with prosecutors being unable to get convictions from juries for alcohol crimes. Something to remember as this attempt a prohibition turns a corner and is revealed as the failure that it is. If you find yourself on a drug trial jury, remember that you have the right to sit in judgement of the law as well as being the judge of the accused. Visit the Fully Informed Jury Association for more info on that score.
We are the government. We ultimately decide which laws will be enforced, and which will not. We need to find our feet again as a people, and stand up for justice; not just in this instance, but across the board.