Michigan’s criminal justice system is multilayered and broad. Practitioners and experts will recognize that the fine details of its operations are even more complex than the major outlines presented in this primer. However, the information contained here provides a thorough overview of the system as a whole and a good starting point from which to analyze proposed reforms.
A functioning criminal justice system is a fundamental feature of a healthy society. But it is critical not only that it perform well on behalf of society as a whole, but also on behalf of the individual offenders. The degree of government intervention in the lives of offenders is greater than that authorized for any other governmental purpose. It disrupts families, sending ripples through entire communities. The expense to taxpayers is massive. For all these reasons, it is well worth any and all efforts to ensure that we understand the system well enough to know when it is failing to perform up to the standards we expect.