Criminal Justice Policy Initiative

The Criminal Justice Policy Initiative is dedicated to producing high quality research and timely analysis of criminal justice policy issues in Michigan. The Initiative examines the three major criminal justice institutions — law enforcement agencies, the court system, and the corrections department — to help stakeholders make sound decisions about public safety.

This work would not be possible without our generous donors. For information about the Mackinac Center and our benefits please visit our membership page.

Latest Articles

Red or Blue, Criminal Justice Still Gets a Green Light

Election outcomes matter less when the issue enjoys substantial bipartisan support … more

Comparing Michigan’s Largest Counties on Civil Asset Forfeiture

Oakland and Wayne counties are worlds apart when it comes to protecting property rights … more

Bail Reform Effort in Michigan: What It Is and What It Isn’t

Why pretrial policy should matter to everyone … more
S2018-06 Cover

How Bail Works in Michigan and Recommendations for Reform

Bail is the process by which criminal defendants secure their release while awaiting trial. It allows people who have been charged with a crime to be released from police custody. In recent years, the criminal justice system has drawn criticism from across the political spectrum because cash bail has come to be imposed on so many criminal defendants. Data increasingly indicate that releasing a defendant pretrial has a significant impact on his long-term prospects. It affects the defendant’s ability to retain his housing, employment, and child custody, the probability that he will go on to commit another crime and even the likelihood of a favorable legal outcome in his case.
Research has also revealed that the majority of jail inmates are legally innocent but are being detained because they cannot afford to bail out before and during their trial. This imposes large costs on local governments but provides no clear public safety benefit. Finally and most importantly, states with misguided pretrial release policies may infringe on defendants’ liberty interests, opening themselves up to litigation and the risk of an injustice. For these reasons, stakeholders and practitioners in Michigan should work to understand the purpose of bail and implement the best pretrial practices for respecting individual rights and public resources.
This report explains in detail how the bail process works and provides recommendations for reforming it in a way that benefits criminal defendants, the court system and taxpayers. … more

Michigan Needs Bail Reform

New report outlines how to improve bail process to benefit defendants and the public … more

Money and Justice in West Michigan

Ottawa County prepares programs to improve both funding and offender success … more

Mackinac Center Applauds Gov. Snyder’s ‘Outside the Box’ Reforms

Reforms expand economic opportunities for Michigan citizens seeking a second chance … more

Prisons Are Not a Jobs Program

Closing Ojibway is tough, but necessary … more

Coping with the Growing Number of Felons in Michigan

Our courts deliver nearly 50,000 felony convictions per year … more