People in prison thrive on hope. The despair of a life sentence is made tolerable by the hope of change. Tolerable in the sense of there being some small chance of eventual freedom. But that hope of change far too often is used as a control device; people who support the changes are too easily made the system's tools for chiseling that control. As an example, the stress on improved living conditions in prisons loses sight of the reality of imprisonment. Even a Better Homes and Gardens bedroom, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for 20 years, is an intolerable prison.

What is eliminated in prison is choice. What is encouraged is obedience. Bruno Bettelheim illustrated the result when he stated "a prisoner had reached the final stage of adjustment to the camp situation when he had changed his personality so as to accept as his own the values of the Gestapo .... Can one imagine a greater triumph for any system than this adoption of its values and behavior by its powerless victims?" Until choice can be freely exercised and caring behavior encouraged, there can be no meaningful change and the "rehabilitation" of "criminals" will only be a system's triumph over the values and behavior of the powerless in our society.

It is not enough just to endorse a movement, support an issue or reach out among ourselves, inside and outside prisons. As abolitionists we must look to the future and examine the long term impact of their present reality. We must be creative and inquisitive. We must understand our direction and abolition must be that direction because the entire system of punishment has failed. Abolition is not a toothache, but a people's right to erase useless waste of human life, time and money.

This handbook can serve as a beginning, but it must be perceived as just that, a beginning. None of the models can work if perceived as an answer to the problems. Diverting lives from imprisonment and punishment can only serve as links in a chain of change. We cannot afford to lose sight of the uniqueness of each individual and the needs that filter thru that uniqueness to create one human life; we must create options and equity.

-M. Sharon Smolick # AF01850