Jennifer Wilbanks made a mistake. Okay, it was a big mistake. Okay, it was a huge mistake. She put her family and friends and hometown through an excruciating and terrifying few days for a purely selfish reason, and now it’s been reported that she might have planned the getaway a few days in advance. I’m not trying to overlook these facts. If she were my daughter, sister or friend, I’m sure I’d have a few words with her, especially if I was supposed to be one of the bridesmaids. If I were her fiancée, I probably would break off the engagement. I’m sure she’s going to face a lot of personal repercussions as a result of her actions.
BUT hasn’t she been through enough without having charges pressed against her? While the courts can make her pay restitution for the police officers who spent hours searching for her, it will only add more embarrassment not only for her but her family and fiancée. Police departments don’t “reimburse” people who are wrongly accused, people who lose money having to fight charges and who might lose their jobs because of being arrested. Is there really a need to clog up the judicial system with a court date where this woman has to plead guilty and accept her fine, probation and community service hours? Taxpayer money has already been used to pay the officers who searched for her. Must we use more to take her to court? Unfortunately, a poll on a local news station Web site in my city shows that more than 70 percent of the respondents believe that charges should be filed, but I suppose that’s normal. We want people to “pay” for everything.
Jennifer Wilbanks will pay for what she’s done, and it doesn’t require an arrest warrant or a court appearance. She’s home, she’s safe and she should be left alone.