On the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series

Trying the System

By Melissa Tatum

In Anita Blake’s world, the monster lurking in the dark has emerged from the closet and become the monster who lives next door. College students earn degrees in preternatural biology, cops must determine whether the corpse at their murder scene will come back to bite them (literally!), and EMTs must treat everything from humans to vampires to shifters to all sorts of other formerly mythical creatures. And the criminal justice system struggles with how to handle beings with superhuman strength and abilities. How do you incarcerate a vampire who can bend the bars of the cell and escape? How do you impose pretrial detention on a vampire who can exert mind control powers on his jailer, compelling the jailer to open the cell and forget ever doing so?

Over the first dozen books in the Anita Blake series, the U.S. government wrestles with these issues, and while it laudably decided to make vampires legal citizens of the United States, it unfortunately decides to flagrantly violate approximately one-half of their constitutional rights by imbuing federal marshals with the legal authority to be vampire executioners. No search warrants or arrest warrants for vampires; instead, courts issue warrants of execution, essentially creating a system where the sniper and the cop combine to create an assassin with a badge and give a whole new meaning to the phrase “execute the warrant.”

To fully understand what is happening in Anita’s universe, we must take a brief detour through the somewhat convoluted thicket of the criminal justice system.  …

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