Paris Hilton’s Jail Sentence

People don’t like Paris Hilton and by “people,” I mean me, you, and pretty much everyone else except whichever random guy she happens to be sleeping with tonight. That, along with the feeling that she got a break because of her celebrity status, is why there is so much discussion, a lot of it angry, about her short stay in jail,

“The judge said she’d get no breaks. The sheriff said she’d do her time. Even Paris Hilton said she was ready to face her sentence.

But on Thursday, three days into a 23-day jail stint, Hilton was fitted with an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet and released to the comforts of her 2,700-square-foot Hollywood Hills home due to a mysterious and unspecified medical condition.

Did fame afford her special treatment? Neither Hilton’s representatives nor Sheriff Lee Baca, who made the decision to spring the celebrity inmate, responded to requests for comment Thursday.

…Attorneys, meanwhile, differed on whether her treatment was unusual.

“She would have gotten out early if she was plain Jane,” said Leonard Levine, who has handled numerous probation violation cases. He noted that overcrowding in the Los Angeles County jail system has led to thousands of nonviolent offenders serving only 10 percent of their sentences. “She did as much time as a normal person would have done.”

But City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo denounced Baca’s decision, saying his office was not properly advised and would have opposed it on legal grounds. Delgadillo asserted that only the judge — who had specifically said Hilton could not do her time at home and disagreed with the early release — retained jurisdiction over her case.

Steve Cron, a defense attorney who has represented celebrities, said Hilton was indeed treated differently: “I think the sheriff was just tired of the paparazzi and the increased security problems. … I don’t buy the reasons they gave.”

…”House arrest is nothing,” Cron said. “She can have friends over, she can party all night long.”

When she chose to serve her time under house arrest, the sentence reverted to the original 45 days. Although Hilton spent only three days in jail, she was credited for five because she checked in late Sunday and left early Thursday.

Although the jury of public opinion may be outraged at Hilton’s early release, celebrity attorney Harland Braun said Hilton was actually being treated more harshly than a normal person: “I can’t imagine anyone else going in for 45 days for a probation violation.”

…Cron said that whether or not Hilton was treated fairly, the outcome doesn’t reflect well on the criminal justice system.

“I’m proud of the system and this makes the system look cheap,” Cron said. “It makes it look like she’s a celebrity and she got a sweetheart deal. It will further the perception that celebrities are treated differently.”

Now here’s the thing: famous people do often get preferential treatment because they’re well known. Think about Sandy Burger and Patrick Kennedy if you want two examples of it. But, on the flip side, famous people may be treated much more harshly than an average person because of their celebrity status. Think about Rush Limbaugh and Martha Stewart, neither of whom in my opinion, never would have been targeted for prosecution if they were ordinary people.

With that in mind, was Paris Hilton given a break because she’s rich and famous? I’m not entirely sure, but as you can see, there are at least some lawyers in the know who are saying she didn’t get a shorter sentence than an average person would under the same circumstances.

So, with that in mind, I don’t have any complaints about her doing a few days in jail and then getting out to serve the rest of her sentence under house arrest. No matter how obnoxious Paris Hilton may be, she shouldn’t have to do more time in jail than an ordinary citizen would under the same circumstances.

Update #1: I’m sure a lot of people loved the image of bratty Paris Hilton, bawling and crying, as she was dragged off to jail for 45 days, but for me, it just confirms that the judge is treating her harshly because she’s a celebrity.

If that weren’t the case, he would have just sent back to jail instead of doubling her sentence because the Sheriff chose to let her out early. But, because all this attention was focused on it, the judge stuck it to her because he got embarrassed by the Sheriff.

But, what did Paris Hilton do to merit an extra 23 days in jail? When she said, “It’s not right,” she was, for once, spot-on.

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