Harsher sentencing on drugs leads to record numbers of incarceration, yet data shows that the current system has no impact on addiction—nor the reduction of illicit drugs that are available.
“There has to be a better way,” a new series on Roku wonders.
The Roku Channel will debut an all-new Roku Original The Fix, on Friday, January 21. Actor Samuel L. Jackson narrates the eight-part docuseries, which is based on the New York Times bestselling book Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, written by Johann Hari. The book was translated into 15 languages as his second best-seller. Hari joined the project as an executive producer.
If Hari’s name sounds familiar—his popular TED Talk “Everything You Know About Addiction is Wrong” might ring a bell. Why is it—that most people who are given powerful opioids out of surgery don’t turn into junkies? What really causes addiction? Is it the substances that are actually the problem, or something else?
Hari, who graduated from Cambridge with flying colors, argues that locking people up in prison does nothing to solve addiction at the root cause, nor does the system work. The series was directed by Jeremiah Zagar, along with Nathan Caswell, Cassidy Gearhart and Josh Banville, and produced by Public Record, Jeff Hays Films and Story Syndicate. Hari, along with Jeff Hays, Jeremiah Zagar, Jeremy Yaches, Dan Cogan, Jon Bardin, Liz Garbus, Geralyn White Dreyfous served as executive producers.
“What if the script we know so well hasn’t actually kept us safe?” Jackson proposes in the trailer.
“Almost everything that we, as society, think we know about drugs is false,” The Fix Director Jeremiah Zagar said in a statement. “The United States has fought the war on drugs for decades, but the painful consequences of addiction continue to rampantly impact our communities. Roku Original The Fix boldly tackles this topic by debunking common misconceptions about drugs and highlighting alternative approaches to addiction. Audiences will walk away from The Fix with a clearer understanding of how we can combat this complex crisis.”
The War on Drugs hasn’t made us any safer, the series argues. “The murder rate has actually gone up,” since the War on Drugs began, one commenter says during the trailer.
We’ve known the War on Drugs was a failure in solving the problem of addiction for over 10 years. “Arresting and incarcerating tens of millions of these people in recent decades has filled prisons and destroyed lives and families without reducing the availability of illicit drugs or the power of criminal organizations,” the Global Commission on Drug Policy 2011 report concludes. Most people know that U.S. drug policy heavily influences global policies via the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
The team at Roku hopes to become part of the conversation as the U.S. slowly takes a look at drug reform—notably seen in cannabis reform legislation.
Brian Tannenbaum is Head of Alternative Originals at Roku. “We strive to deliver bold storytelling that both entertains and informs our audience,” Tannenbaum said. “Roku Original docuseries like The Fix do just that by peeling back the curtain and teaching viewers something new about the most relevant cultural topics. We look forward to bringing the eye-opening stories in The Fix to audiences this January.”
Some families with drug-addicted family members think that sending them to jail will force them to get clean. Not necessarily. The Marshall Project highlighted the overdose crisis in U.S. prisons. That’s right—they still have access to drugs once they get in. So, it begs the question—what exactly is the point of locking up drug addicts?
Also check out Hari’s book Stolen Focus, which critics deemed “dangerous.”
Benjamin M. Adams is Staff Writer at High Times, and has written for Vice, Forbes, HuffPost, The Advocate, Culture, and many other publications. He holds a Bachelor of Communication from Southern New Hampshire University.