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June 14, 2007

Analysis indicates Paris Hilton is receiving especially harsh treatment

The Los Angeles Times has this new article providing data-driven context for debates over whether Paris Hilton to receiving a special kind of justice.  Here are the highlights:

Paris Hilton will end up serving more time behind bars than the vast majority of inmates sent to L.A. County Jail for similar offenses, according to a Times analysis of jail records.  Whether Hilton received special treatment from the Sheriff's Department has become the subject of much debate since Sheriff Lee Baca last week allowed the hotel heiress to go home after less than four full days in jail, despite a promise that she would serve 23 days of a 45-day sentence.

The Times analyzed 2 million jail releases and found 1,500 cases since July 2002 that — like Hilton's — involved defendants who had been arrested for drunk driving and later sentenced to jail after a probation violation or driving without a license.  Had Hilton left jail for good after four days, her stint behind bars would have been similar to those served by 60% of those inmates.  But after a judge sent her back to jail Friday, Hilton's attorney announced that she would serve the full 23 days. That means that Hilton will end up serving more time than 80% of other people in similar situations.

Now, if only the LA Times would conduct this analysis of the justice received in California by the hundreds of thousands of other persons behind bars who have a much lower Q rating than Ms. Hilton.

In a related vein, check out this interesting piece at Slate by Christopher Hitchens entitled "Siege of Paris: The creepy populism surrounding high-profile defendants."

June 14, 2007 at 06:57 AM | Permalink


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Posted by: Alex Hammer | Jun 14, 2007 10:03:51 AM

In our jurisdiction a first offense DUI is a two day jail sentence or being locked up in a motel for a weekend DUI class. If they fail sign up for the class the consequences depend on the judge. If the judge habitually sentences them to a week in jail for contempt word gets around and most people sign up for the class or show up at the jail to serve their sentence.

Driving while barred is an aggravated misdemeanor which has a maximum of two years in prison. Normally for repeated violations the sentence is 30 days in jail with a 20% good time credit or 24 days in jail.

Hilton's sentence of 45 days may have been 30 days for DWB plus 15 days for contempt to be served consecutively.

Posted by: John Neff | Jun 14, 2007 10:29:44 AM

I saw yesterday that MADD is saying that Paris Hilton is one of 500,000 people who drive drunk, have their license suspensed, and drive anyway each year. They say they are trying to raise $500,000 by the end of June to combat these 500,000 unsafe drivers; I've pasted part of their email below:

"MADD's Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving would help stop these 500,000 Paris Hiltons by 1) replacing long license suspensions with restrictions on driving that require offenders to use ignition interlock devices and 2) increasing penalties for driving while suspended to help deter people from committing this crime.

There are three things you can do to help stop these 500,000 offenders:

1. Donate to MADD online and help us meet their $500,000 goal at http://support.madd.org/combat500
2. Forward this email to on to your friends and family
3. Email your legislators to let them know you would like better ignition interlock laws at https://secure2.convio.net/madd/site/Advocacy?id=477"

It seems to make sense -- why not try to solve the larger problem?

Posted by: Nick | Jun 14, 2007 11:04:24 AM

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