No western nation incarcerates more individuals than the United States of America, and as reported by marketplace.org, according to the: "Vera Institute of Justice, incarceration costs an average of more than $31,000 per inmate, per year, nationwide." Additionally, since this is the United States of America, our prisoners have rights, of which amongst these rights are those rights as contained within our Constitution, which means that prisoners shall not be inflicted with "cruel and unusual punishments," as well as having the right to petition the courts for redress of grievances. In short, prisoners have a safe place to rest their heads, are fed and clothed, while often having entertainment and physical exercise facilities, as well as receiving free medical attention, of which, the only rights that prisoners consistently sacrifice are their right to privacy, their obligation to obedience, as well as the salient fact that they are imprisoned.
All of this is what America does for its prisoners. On the other hand, as reported by voanews.com, "A report by the U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights finds 40 million people in the United States live in poverty, 18.5 million live in extreme poverty and more than 5 million live in conditions of absolute poverty." While pundits disagree vociferously on the definition of poverty, extreme poverty, and absolute poverty, as well as therefore the numbers of those falling into those categories, there isn't any doubt that there are a substantial number of Americans that are living in conditions of extreme poverty, of substandard housing, of substandard schools, of substandard food, and of substandard healthcare, in this, the richest and mightiest nation that the world has ever known.
The fact that America apparently cares more about treating its prisoners humanely than those that are non-lawbreaking citizens, who suffer the ill and debilitating effects of extreme poverty is a disgrace to this great nation, for those that are born into extreme poverty and then are not given the chance to attend quality schools, and to be housed and fed in a humane and decent manner are having precluded to them, by virtue of that poverty, the fair opportunity to make something good of themselves in this society.
If, somehow this country has $31,000 per inmate to spend upon those inmates and the infrastructure of imprisoning inmates, then it surely has the resources to spend an equal amount of money, if not more, on each and every citizen of this country to have the very things that those that run this government, have in abundance and overabundance. The fact that the safety net of America is a mirage, is a disgrace to this nation, and needs to be dealt with, forthrightly. In 1964, President Johnson, gave the seminal speech of his life, in which as part of that speech, he said, "Our aim is not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it." Those that heard that speech and believed in that speech, most have been bitterly disappointed, for over fifty years later, the symptom, cure, and prevention of poverty has not yet happened, and poverty appears no closer to being eradicated in today's America then it was back in 1964.
Too often, America treats those that are impoverished and in poverty as if poverty is a crime, with the exception being that criminals that have actually harmed people and have stolen goods are fundamentally treated better, than those whose only crime is to be born poor or to live in circumstances in which they are poor. There are many ways to judge a given country, and certainly one of the best ways is how that country deals with those that were born into nothing and have nothing, but could become something. Take the trouble and the time to see the hidden and impoverished America and its poorest citizens, and recognize that they have deliberately been left behind, because those that run this nation see them not as people deserving of respect and human rights but rather as trash, to be casually discarded and forgotten about, as if they never existed.