Jun 122007
 
Authors: Sean Reed

Paris Hilton has done it again.

No, she hasn’t put out a sequel to – likely – the best selling debut in Book Ranch history. And don’t worry, Tinkerbell is alive, well, and probably eating better than 95 percent of the population. Alas, this time, Paris has found herself in some real trouble.

Last Friday, to the joy of media outlets everywhere, Paris Hilton was ordered to return to a Los Angeles County jail just hours after being released to serve out the rest of her 45 day sentence for driving with a suspended license – a violation of her parole – at home.

According to numerous outlets, a distraught Hilton screamed for her mother after the judge handed down his ruling, saying, “It’s not right.”

This will probably be the only time I ever say this, but I actually agree with her – well – sort of.

Judge Michael Sauer was absolutely right to force Paris to serve out her term in jail, rather than in the comforts of her own home. Favoritism in the justice system cannot be tolerated, and there is no doubt in my mind that when Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca let her out that it was because of her high profile status.

Baca, of course, has asserted to every press agency that he let her go because of unspecified mental issues, but give me a break. I bet more than half of all inmates have mental problems – or at least say they do. Heck, the ones that do have problems probably have more debilitating ones than Hilton, so shouldn’t they be let free too?

Of course, while the tabloids of the nation cry foul at this now remedied miscarriage of justice, they ignore the injustice done to Hilton.

Hilton – while very obnoxious in general – doesn’t exactly have a long criminal history. According to the Federal Pacer System, a federal courts database, she has no prior convictions.

For that reason, it seems a bit excessive for Sauer to give her such a hefty sentence for a minor violation like driving on a suspended license.

A story released by the Los Angeles Times just a few days ago was particularly illustrative of this point. A reporter interviewed inmates being released from the same facility where Hilton is currently being held to get their responses to Hilton’s situation. Naturally, they all thought Hilton was just a spoiled brat getting special treatment.

However, what was interesting about this story was not what the inmates said, but the background information provided by the reporter. Two of the inmates given space to rant had been arrested on charges similar to Hilton’s.

One, a woman who had been arrested for driving on her suspended license was given a grand total of four days behind bars for her crime. Another inmate, a man jailed for violating his probation by driving, was given 45 days – the same as Hilton. The difference is, however, that this man was currently on probation for his second DUI.

Does this seem fair? One woman gets four days, and Hilton, a first-time offender, gets the same sentence as a habitual offender.

What’s the difference between Hilton and the woman who got the slap on the wrist? Hilton is a high profile celebrity – an insufferable one, at that – and the other woman wasn’t.

There was absolutely no reason for Judge Sauer to give Hilton such an overbearing sentence for such a petty offense. Hilton definitely deserved to be punished, but she also deserved a punishment fit for her crime.

Luckily for Hilton, though, there are some systems put in place that will favor an early release that cannot be taken away. According to a Rocky Mountain News report on Saturday, she will be given one day off her sentence for every four days she exhibits good behavior. This means that if she behaves, she will only have to serve roughly 23 days behind bars.

Whatever happens, Hilton will likely – as most jailed celebrities do – benefit from her stint in the slammer. After all, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

Life throws curve balls; maybe Paris can come out swinging. Coming soon: “One Night in Paris 2: Jailbait.”

Editorials Editor Sean Reed is a junior political science major. His column appears Wednesdays in the summer Collegian edition. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com

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