Prison, we have been taught, is a necessary evil. This is wrong. Prison is an artificial, human invention, not a fact of life; a throwback to primitive times, and a blot upon the species. As such, it must be destroyed.

Prisons never have achieved their stated end. Constant revision of their official function -- reformation, punishment, deterrence, rehabilitation, treatment, reintegration, to name a few‑has failed to justify what they do. What they do can never be justified.

Nevertheless, the institution endures, its walls remain firmly rooted in the rich soil of remote places. Hundreds of thousands of men and women make their livelihood from it. The relic remains among us, flanked by newer models, because we instinctively shrink from the recognition of our worst failures as a society.

We say, "No more." Finally, after centuries of reform without change, a monumental conclusion has been reached: prison must be abolished! No matter how formidable the walls and sturdy the locks, how numerous the difficulties, regardless of the immensity of the power wielded by those it protects and preserves, the monster must be overcome.

Allowed to survive, it will prevail, over us all. At a time when prison populations across the United States are soaring to unprecedented levels, when more and more fortresses are springing up thruout the land, when crime and unemployment are up, and when the very world itself appears on the verge of one form of totalitarianism or another, of course abolition is a radical concept. But then, so is freedom. So is love. And so is peace.

Remember the words of Herbert Read: "What has been worthwhile in human history‑the great achievements of physics and astronomy, of geographical discovery and of human healing, of philosophy and art‑has been the work of extremists‑of those who believed in the absurd, dared the impossible."

Remember, too, that less than two hundred years ago, slavery still was a fundamental institution, regarded as legitimate by church and state and accepted by the vast majority of people, including, perhaps, most slaves.

Imprisonment is slavery. Like slavery, it was imposed on a class of people by those on top. Prisons will fall when their foundation is exposed and destroyed by a movement surging from the bottom up.

This is an imperfect book, but it is a beginning. A friction to stop the momentum. Carry on. We love you all!

‑Scott Christianson