Prison Break for Paris Hilton?
By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
It looked like a red carpet event.
Outside the courthouse, cameras flashed and fans swooned.
Paris Hilton showed up 20 minutes late for her probation violation hearing, dabbing on makeup prior to waltzing in.
Evidently, Paris thought she could use the Debra LaFave defense in court; that her prominent presence in the courtroom would make the judge realize that she was far too beautiful to go to prison.
It may have worked for LaFave, but not for Hilton. Los Angeles Judge Michael Sauer, apparently unimpressed with Hilton's celebrity status, sentenced her to 45 days in the slammer. She was ordered to report to her new accommodations on June 5.
Hilton's home for a potential month and a half will be a cell in a Lynwood, Calif., detention center for women. Like her fellow inmates, she'll wear an orange jumpsuit and be confined to a 12-by-8 foot space. If she wants to primp, she'll have to use the polished metal plate that's provided to see her reflection.
She won't be eating any gourmet meals either. The incarcerated heiress will get only one hot meal per day, with two other cold fowl-based ones.
TV execs are already buzzing about the potential for a "Paris in Prison" show. But the possibility still exists that she'll escape punishment.
After an appeal is filed, Paris may be allowed to remain free on bail. Or she may follow the pattern of another celebrity.
In 2006, then "Lost" actress Michelle Rodriguez started a 60-day jail sentence for violating probation after a driving-under-the-influence arrest in Hawaii. She was released in mere hours due to an overcrowded prison situation.
Hilton's mouthpiece, renowned celeb counsel Howard Weitzman, has indicated that he will file an appeal. His defense is his client's fame and the two-tiered justice system it purportedly produces.
"She's been selectively targeted in my opinion to be prosecuted because of who she is," Weitzman said.
After hearing her fate in court, Hilton told photographers gathered outside her home, "I feel that I was treated unfairly and that the sentence is both cruel and unwanted and I don't deserve this."
Still, in terms of public behavior, Paris has been pushing the envelope for a long time.
The fact of the matter is she presented a real danger to the public when she was driving in an intoxicated state and was put on probation instead of jail. The court gave her conditional mercy.
When Hilton ignored the conditions of her probation, she chose jail for herself. She's not being punished for being Paris. She's being punished for committing a crime.
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