By Sam Sabzehzar | September 26, 2011
Charles Shaw’s Exile Nation Project: An Oral History of the War on Drugs & The American Criminal Justice System, dives deep through the threshold of the defense for the drug war as it surpasses any argument for continuing a failed policy that has sadly harmed the lives of millions in many more ways than drugs could do.
In his film Exile Nation, Charles Shaw puts the human that is harmed by an approach to harm reduction that attacks the same people they are trying to reduce the harm on via the War on Drugs.
By putting a face on the stories of millions of Americans who are victims of America’s #1 failed policy, The Drug War, Shaw is able to penetrate the deceptive rhetoric supporters of the War on Drugs promulgate and pierce their vocabulary, shattering the myth that Americans are safer with a war waged against them by their own government, than without one.
The way this film is beautifully shot, with a score that is similarly moving, adds a layer of hope that speaks to many patients who feel exiled for their use of medical marijuana, as well as those who suffer from the loss of a loved one in this tragic war.
The following except is taken from the Project’s website, ExileNation.org:
The Land of the Free punishes or imprisons more of its citizens than any other country. This collection of testimonials from criminal offenders, family members, and experts on America’s criminal justice system puts a human face on the millions of Americans subjugated by the US Government’s 40 year, one trillion dollar social catastrophe: The War on Drugs; a failed policy underscored by fear, politics, racial prejudice and intolerance in a public atmosphere of “out of sight, out of mind.”
The United States has only 5% of the world’s population, yet a full 25% of the world’s prisoners. At 2.5 million, the US has more prisoners than even China does with five times the population of the United States. 8 million Americans (1 in every 31) languish under some form of state monitoring known as “correctional supervision.” On top of that, the security and livelihood of over 13 million more has been forever altered by a felony conviction.
The American use of punishment is so pervasive, and so disproportionate, that even the conservative magazine The Economist declared in 2010, “never in the civilized world have so many been locked up for so little.”
The project will unfold over a two year period, beginning with the release of this feature-length documentary and then continuing on with the release of short films and complete interviews from each of the 100 participants in the project, meant to represent the 1 in 100 Americans that are currently sitting behind bars.
The Exile Nation Project is made possible by a generous grant from the Tedworth Charitable Trust and the openDemocracy group, in association with Exile Nation Media. All content produced is non-commercial and available for free distribution under a Creative Commons license.