Brigham Young University Prelaw Review


Fourteenth Amendment, Criminal Law, Poverty, Indigence, Plea Bargaining, Prosecution, Griffin v Illinois


The Supreme Court has consistently recognized the hardships of the poor in the criminal justice system and has set a precedent that if a person cannot afford access to any level of the criminal justice system, the state must remove that financial barrier. Prosecutorial tactics in the plea-bargaining process coerce the poor into waiving their right to trial. The unequal access to trial between the poor and non-poor violates the Fourteenth Amendment, which requires that states remove any barrier that restricts the poor from the criminal justice system. The Court has left the states to decide which solutions will work best for them. We suggest two ways states can remove the inequality.