Date of Award

Summer 1967

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science


The power to make it impossible for any man, woman or child to be denied the equal protection of the laws, because he or she is poor is an essential part of the administration of justice in a democracy. Simply by definition the indigent defendant is destitute of material possessions, but he often will also be lacking in intelligence in education, in the rudimentary social graces and in the common qualities of good behavior. Though he may be very personable and likeable, or occasionally well-educated, much more often than not, it is safe to say that the law officer who arrests him, the district attorney who prosecutes the case against him, the judge who hears the case, the attorney who defends him, the jury which decides his fate, the parole officer who later works with him, the social worker who seeks to solve his problems and the minister who advises him spiritually, would ordinarily not mix with him socially culturally or in business and know him only because of the mentioned function which brings them in contact with him. Yet the public at large, the press, and the courts have demonstrated a growing interest in the legal rights of this less fortunate segment of our otherwise affluent society; if for no other reason than that the indigent defendant is a created human being. The purpose of this presentation is to examine the present status of the law and see how it is being applied to the indigent defendant.