So as you might have noticed here, despite the fact that I'm a former prosecutor, I'm no fan of unfettered prosecutorial discretion. But that discretion can be a good thing when prosecutors act as gatekeepers for police and citizens, who can have some pretty nutty ideas of what sort of conduct should lead to criminal charges.
In this regard, the thankful for a moment if you do not live in Kentucky:
"In Kentucky," A.P. explains, "citizens can obtain arrest warrants simply by filing a complaint with local prosecutors," and "no investigation is necessary for police to make an arrest when the charge involves an alleged sexual offense."
So some citizens accusing other citizens of sex crimes can get arrest warrants for them. How bad can it get? Oh, very bad indeed:
At a Harlan, Kentucky, grocery store last week, perennial gubernatorial candidate Otis "Bullman" Hensley encountered a woman with her two nieces, ages 11 and 13. He offered to trade a "fattening hog" for the girls, a variation on an old Appalachian joke meant as a compliment. The woman evidently didn't get it. A.P. reports that "the family obtained a warrant for Hensley's arrest from the local prosecutor, claiming the comment was intended to entice the children into illegal sexual activity." Hensley—who earned his nickname by traveling the state with "a giant Fiberglas bull on which he attached a sign proclaiming that, if elected, he would 'chase the bull out of Frankfort'"—spent three days in jail before the girls' father decided he was willing to accept an apology in lieu of a 10-year prison sentence.
Now, I could see a system where this would work out all right — so long as there was a provision in the law that if the arrest were determined to be frivolous later, the mother and father could be horsewhipped in the public square.
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