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The big sweep


Last year in state courts throughout Michigan about 60,000 felony cases were tried for crimes ranging from simple larceny to first-degree murder. Of those convicted about 20 percent were sentenced to state prisons and jails. The rest were placed on probation, given community service, or had their cases dismissed or appealed.

In each case, regardless of outcome, a county prosecutor working on behalf of the state — and its citizens — took the case to trial. There are more than 400 prosecutors on the job in Michigan’s 83 counties, and trying cases is only a sliver of what they do. Prosecutors are part of the inner-circle of most local governments, and the policies they introduce set the tone and standard for criminal justice in the communities they serve. John Smock is a freelance writer based in New York. E-mail