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A Colossal Failure: Sundance Award-Winning Film Sheds New Light on Destructive Drug War

Amy Goodman interviews the Director of "The House I Live In" to explore the horrific failures of drug war, as well as the argument for a public health approach.

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AMY GOODMAN: Nannie Jeter, this is a story about the so-called drug war in America?

NANNIE JETER: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about your family in the context of that.

NANNIE JETER: Well, my son, which is deceased, his name is James Jeter, my youngest son. And he got on drugs when he was about 14. As he became more addicted to drugs, I couldn’t control him, and I could not discipline him. And so many things would disappear from the house: clothes and rent money, food money, everything that you left in your house and you trust your kids with. And it was like a, like I said, genie. You would see it today, and at nighttime it wasn’t there. And it was your last. And drug played that part in my life, that I became—I just hate anything to do with drugs, because it destroyed a family. And back in those days, you would be walking or taking the bus, and you would see someone else’s son taking furniture out of their neighbor house or their own parents’ house, selling it for this drug. And even back in those years, it still haven’t changed. There are—of the same thing for drugs.

I have a great-niece that had four children, and she is addicted to drugs. And for a while, she’ll go into rehab. And it still comes back to haunt her. It’s like something that she can’t get rid of. And that was the same thing with my son. And at the end, he just got so tired of drugs, and he had injected himself so much with drugs, it was in his—in his feet. Just, you can’t even imagine the abuse, the suffering that people go through addicted to drugs. And it is a sad thing.

And our—this country, where we can go into other countries and try to straighten that out, and we can’t even straighten out. And it’s a black thing, and it’s more prison to put young blacks in, all the blacks in, and there’s nothing been done about it. If you can send someone to the moon and all of the things that we are doing in this country, you sure can eliminate the drugs that’s coming. That’s my faith and my belief. And even in our own—in New Haven, I remember back last year when a lot of white teenagers were being killed at 16 with their driving license. We had a government that changed the rules so that we wouldn’t lose so many white teenagers. But it never was a rule—you don’t even hear any politician mention drugs or anything, you know, and that’s what really, really bother me an awful lot, that it destroyed people. It’s no trust there.

And different relatives, you can’t leave in your home. You have to lock up stuff. And stuff that you just bought and on credit and trying to pay for and live American—halfway—dream, it’s being stolen. It’s being stolen. And my son were—he would wait for the mailman. I had—my aunt was living. And he would wait 'til she would come to get mail, so he could get in the house and to take whatever that he could sell. And you beg, cry. You love. You love. You hate. It's nothing that you could do about it. And still, I have a niece that have a family that love her, and her kids now have reject her. She wants to get off drug. I do not believe that people do not want to get off drug. And you hear testimony of womens that is on drugs. It’s something that our country can change. We can change everything else.