President Barack Obama has previously expressed his love for the HBO series The Wire (2002-2008), which chronicled the effect of the war on drugs in the city of Baltimore. Now he’s sat down with the creator of the series to talk about mass incarceration in the U.S.
On Thursday the White House debuted a video of the president conducting an interview about our criminal-justice system with The Wire’s creator, David Simon, at the Bipartisan Summit for Criminal Justice Reform, held in Washington, D.C.
Simon, who lived in Baltimore in the 1980s, remarked that during this time “people thought they could arrest their way out of the drug problem, and then they actually tried to do that.” The summit directly addressed many of the issues Simon and the president discussed during the interview, including the long-lasting emotional and personal effects that the war on drugs and mass incarceration have had on communities.
Said Simon of former prisoners returning home: “They can’t participate in their community. They’ve lost track of families. Families have been destroyed. Communities have been upended. And if it was this draconian and it worked, then maybe we could have a discussion that said what we’re doing is working. … ‘Yes, it’s terrible, and we’re losing a lot of humanity, but hey, it’s working.’ But it doesn’t work. It’s draconian and it doesn’t work.”
Watch video of the president and Simon’s conversation here: