I saw an interesting statistic on Reddit today that showed just how many more prisons than colleges we have in the US. Here's my take in its most simplified form, along with other ways in which we beat down those who are already down.
The issue is that American bureaucrats, (most of) the super-wealthy, and fiscal conservatives aren't really fiscally conservative and unfortunately, they control everything. They sure as shit don't mind spending incredible amounts of money on prisons and punishment (or wars; they never seem to mind using our highly-expensive military to dispatch "freedom" all around the world), but don't want to spend money on rehabilitation or prevention in the form of higher education. This is what baffles me about both liberals and conservatives.