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June 8, 2007

The latest news from Paris

I'm not sure whether I am still bemused or now getting fatigued by Parisian justice, but here is the latest development from the AP:

Paris Hilton was taken from a courtroom screaming and crying Friday seconds after a judge ordered her returned to jail to serve out her entire 45-day sentence for a parole violation in a reckless driving case. "It's not right!" shouted the weeping Hilton. "Mom!" she called out to her mother in the audience.

Hilton, who was brought to court in handcuffs in a sheriff's car, came into the courtroom disheveled and weeping. Her hair was askew and she wore a gray fuzzy sweatshirt over slacks.  She wore no makeup and she cried throughout the hearing.  Her body also shook constantly as she dabbed at her eyes....

California Attorney General Jerry Brown criticized the Sheriff's Department for letting Hilton out of jail, saying he believed she should serve out her sentence.  "It does hold up the system to ridicule when the powerful and the famous get special treatment," Brown told The Associated Press in an interview before testifying at a congressional hearing in Washington, D.C.  "I'm sure there's a lot of people who've seen their family members go to jail and have various ailments, physical and psychological, that didn't get them released," he said. "I'd say it's time for a course correction."

June 8, 2007 at 03:28 PM | Permalink


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The question is: does she get credit for time out of jail.

Posted by: federalist | Jun 8, 2007 3:59:27 PM

(Haiku Friday Analysis)

I am enjoying
Libby and Paris and the
Cries of injustice

You must be new here
To the realm of sentencing
Before-- didn't notice?

"Must have uniformity!
(For those who don't look like me)
(And spare the cute blonde)"

Posted by: Osler | Jun 8, 2007 4:10:37 PM

Both Brown and Sharpton are ignorant. There are a few facts about early release, the first question.

Politics sucks.

Posted by: | Jun 8, 2007 4:19:57 PM

What doesn't seem fair is -- why does she now have to serve her entire 45 day sentence? Supposedly, he was going to serve 23 days. I don't see how she has done anything wrong to change that. The sheriff may have screwed up, but that's not her fault.

Posted by: William Jockusch | Jun 8, 2007 5:38:31 PM

Like I've said elsewhere: let the bitch die in prison. No one - literally no one - will ever miss her.

Posted by: tekel | Jun 8, 2007 10:18:54 PM

Tekel, that is out of bounds.

Posted by: federalist | Jun 8, 2007 10:36:19 PM

I wonder ... the judiciary sentences a high profile person for contempt; the executive says, essentially, I don't have the time, the space, or the budget to deal with this situation. What happens if the Sheriff releases her once again?

Posted by: Edmund Unneland | Jun 8, 2007 11:41:47 PM

The LA County Jail is overcrowded and the standard response is to blame the sheriff. Normally the sheriff responds by blaming the City/County attorney and the judges. I don't know the details in LA County but it seems that that familiar pattern is being repeated there.

In our state the good time credit for jails is capped at 20% by state law. Apparently in CA it is 90% which essentially reduces most jail sentences to a few days. The judges and prosecutors can compensate by increasing the sentence so a two day sentence for DUI becomes a three weeks sentence and so forth. What we then have is a race to the bottom.

I doubt that the sentenced prisoners are responsible for the overcrowding. In most jails the overcrowding is caused by persons held for pretrial and for some type of noncompliance (probation/parole violation, VNC, [failure to appear, pay & whatever], contempt and others). They are waiting for their cases to be processed because the courts are constipated.

They probably also have a tough on crime city attorney. The basic assumption is that the folks in jail are guilty (if they had any brains they would plea bargain) and when we find time we will prove it so it does not matter they are in jail. When they are convicted they will get credit for time served. In other words we have pre-conviction sentencing.

The only reason the media has ever paid any attention to this situation is because on occasion a celebrity is incarcerated. I must live in a cave because I know a lot about jail crowding but I had never heard of Paris Hilton. I guess it is not possible to transfer an adult to juvenile court.

Posted by: John Neff | Jun 9, 2007 8:45:22 AM

I don't buy the "prison overcrowding" excuse. Paris was being held in a special jail (or section of the jail) reserved for celebrities, public figures, etc. -- not the general population. She was the only occupant of a cell designed to hold 2 people. That place was not overcrowded.

Posted by: | Jun 9, 2007 12:43:35 PM

tekel, one day we will have our own Nuremberg trials in Nuremberg, PA.

That day is far into the future and it will take something as radical as the Holocaust to wake us, but you are evidence that we are closer than it seems.

The Nazis, in their defense, argued that they merely adopted American law, and they did. Those on trial in Nuremberg, PA, will of course argue the same thing, let's hope with the same results.

Posted by: George | Jun 9, 2007 1:35:04 PM

I never thought I'd find myself in the position of defending sheriff Baca, but this incident with Paris getting ridiculous. First of all she wasn't shown any special treatment by the sheriff. Offering house arrest is an option frequently given to inmates, along with all the other options the judge refused her. I know this from first hand experience. The sentence reduction (from 45 to 23)had nothing to do with the sheriff or judge it's a law. You get good time work time otherwise know as 1/2 time. As for a celebrity section of the jail? I don't think so. What they have is a unit called high power it is for punishment and high risk offenders. It is the most secure that is why they house celebrities there. By placing her in that cell it means at least one maybe two violent offenders will have to be housed in the general population. The size cell being shown on TV typically will hold 3 people. Sometimes 4. If we want to talk fair and just why should she be required to serve 45 days in solitary confinement for a charge most people don't go to jail for? Personally I think she should have been sentenced to community service. 60 days 8 hours a day helping at L.A. mission, or serving food at a shelter, hell even hanging out on skid row would have been a more just sentence. This circus has cost the taxpayers a bundle, and if anything should happen to her while in custody well I won't even go there. Finally what irritates me more than anything is that 2 days before she was sentenced the City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo held a press conference in which he said he wanted her to serve 45 days to send a message that it didn't matter who you are or how much money you have if you break the law in LA. you will go to jail. 2 days later the judge complied. Nobody has even commented on that though. Virtually all the comments I've heard have nothing to do with fairness but a whole lot to do with jealousy and dislike. Which have nothing to do with law (or shouldn't have).

Posted by: Robert Kent | Jun 9, 2007 5:35:55 PM


A legitimate question could be why is no one given a jail sentence for not once, but twice driving on suspended license while on probation for a crime that for one gets your license suspended. It is like she refused to serve her original sentence. NO DRIVING. What about the fact that she never even bothered to sign up for her mandatory DUI class? Add to that, fines do not deter Paris Hilton. I'll agree that 45 days sounds like a lot and is, but that translates into 31 days (not 23) see PC 4019 (1/2 time applies to non-violent prison sentences, not jail), and Cal. Rule of Court 4.410(a)(4) permits the court to impose a sentence to "deter others from criminal conduct by demonstrating its consequences." What a unique opportunity to demonstrate its consequences with free media?

Just because some judges feel that it is not the crime of the century, which surely is true, does not mean the law should not be enforced. Otherwise, what is the point of having a six month maximum jail sentence for VC 14601.1(a) or 14601.5(a) and 90 days for VC 23103.5 if no one ever gets a day in jail for its violation or for more than one probation violation? What about "punishing the defendant" [Cal. R. Ct 4.410(a)(2)] or "encouraging the defendant to lead a law-abiding life in the future and deterring [] her from future offenses" [4.410(a)(3)]? I guarantee Paris Hilton, and maybe some others, will think twice about blowing off their DUI class and driving while their license is suspended.

Posted by: David | Jun 9, 2007 7:10:40 PM

One of the first things that happens when a jail becomes crowded is they run short of isolation (single occupancy) cells used to hold high risk prisoners (they are a threat to others or others have threatened them) or they are persons with a communicable disease. This means they convert a double occupancy cell into an isolation cell. As noted in a previous post at least two prisoners have to be relocated when a double occupancy cell is converted to isolation. This aggravates the crowding. Some jails call isolation administrative segregation.

This is a hard problem to avoid because an isolation cell costs almost a much as a double occupancy cell and the folks who approve jail plans don't want to spend the extra money to provide an adequate number of isolation cells. That turns out to a false economy.

The presence of empty beds does not mean the jail has useable space. If you visit a jail in the afternoon you probably will find empty beds but the same jail may have inmates sleeping on the floor on mattresses the same evening. The National Institute of Corrections has studied jail crowding and has found that when bed usage exceeds 82% there is a rapid onset of prisoner-prisoner or prisoner-staff violence. I think that percentage may be a bit conservative. Prisoners will tolerate short term overcrowding but long term overcrowding is potentially very dangerous.

Posted by: John Neff | Jun 9, 2007 8:17:59 PM

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