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The double standard: the rich get ankle
braceletsand home arrest. The poor go to jail.
But, sometimes, rich bimbos go to jail, too.

If the Paris Hilton incident proved anything it is that it sadly confirmed that a double standard exists in this country with respect to the application of justice. In the last few weeks we have callously been reminded that some US citizens—the rich ones and their snotty, spoiled offspring that were born with the silver spoons—are just a little "more equal" than the rest of us. It is an inequity that does not square well with the beliefs of the common man—the farmers and foundrymen—whose sweat equity and shed blood molded the moral fiber of this country into the greatest nation in the history of the world. Nor, for that matter, can it be justified anywhere in Declaration of Independence or the US Constitution.

The Paris Hilton saga began about 12:30 a.m. on Sept. 7, a year ago when 26-year old Hilton was caught driving while intoxicated. She had an blood alcohol level of 0.08. First arrest. The DMV suspended her drivers' license and a judge placed her on probation for 36 months. Around 10:30 p.m. on February 27, 2007 LAPD officers stopped Hilton again. This time, on Sunset Boulevard. She was speeding. And, her headlights were turned off.

When the LAPD discovered her drivers' license was suspended, they impounded her $200 thousand Bentley. Second arrest. Hilton claimed she had just come from a brightly lit parking lot and didn't know her headlights weren't on. And, of course, she also claims she was not aware that her drivers' license had been suspended when she pleaded guilty to the first alcohol-related reckless driving on January 22, 2007.

Before going any farther, let me parse a question. If you or I had been caught driving recklessly at high speed while intoxicated with a blood alcohol level of 0.08, had our driver's license suspended and were on probation, how much jail time do you think we'd get? Three guesses and the first two don't count. If that was one of us regular working class people, the original sentencing judge—Michael T. Sauer—would reinstate the jail sentence for which probation was granted. On top of that, you can bet he would have added additional time for driving on a suspended license. Total up the time and its a safe bet we wouldn't get off spending a couple of weekends at the local Hilton Hotel. We would be doing about one year less a day in the county lockup.

When is the justice system going to understand that when a public figure (even a trampy, completely-worthless-as-a-human-being spoiled, privileged socialite) breaks the law, the court must make an example of that individual by sentencing him—or her—to the maximum amount of jail time allowed by law. The privileged have an obligation to set "examples of quintessence" for the impoverished classes in society to emulate so that society understands that [a] no one is above the law, and [b] everyone who commits a crime will do the time—the same time.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael T. Sauer sentenced the party girl to 45 days in jail, with the sentence beginning on June 5. Lawyers for Paris Hilton appealed Sauer's sentence, arguing to the appellate court that jail time in the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynnwood, California was too harsh a sentence for the fragile diva who, the lawyer said, would not cope well with jail. The appellate court ruled that how Hilton served her sentence was solely up to the sentencing judge.

When he issued his ruling, Sauer wrote a marginal note on his decision stating Hilton would not be allowed any work release time, furloughs, use of an alternative jail, electronic monitoring in lieu of real jail—or confinement in the city jail. Had Hilton's lawyer not appealed her sentence, its likely Judge Sauer would not have been able to stop Sheriff Lee Baca from releasing her from jail after "five credited " days of confinement. In reality, Hilton served 74 hours of actual jail time—2 hours longer than three days. Hilton surrendered to the court at 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 3. She was released at 12:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 7. Hilton's 45-day sentence would have been a 23-day sentence with time off for good behavior—and perhaps even less.

According to Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, who was reelected in June, 2006 with almost 67% of the vote, the politics of being Sheriff in one of the nation's largest counties is a tough job. He noted he is constantly pressured by elected officials from the some 40 communities that make up the county. But, he added, he does not have the problems associated by mayors and/or city councils who virtually control all of his decisions.. As an elected official, Baca said he has the flexibility to do what needs to be done.

Which makes me wonder who pressured Sheriff Baca to violate Section 1203 of California law and take it upon himself to negate a sentence imposed by a Superior Court Judge? Baca has been sheriff long enough to know that only another judge in a higher court can overturn a sentence imposed by a lower court judge. Pundits who argue that the federal order to lighten the prisoner load in the LA County jail system trumps Judge Sauer need to take a refresher course in Law 101. Unless Baca's already doling out political favors with his eye on his next election, or was promised a better job when the voters finally turn him out to pasture, its unlikely that he decided to "transfer" Hilton from the regional women's detention center to her gated home where she had planned a gala weekend party to celebrate her "early release." It's more likely the pressure to send her home with an ankle bracelet came from the country club elites who control the voting apparatus in the county.

Hilton's lawyer, Richard Hutton, suggested that she was so fragile that her confinement might trigger an emotional breakdown. A psychiatrist whom the family claims Paris was seeing "on and off" for about 6 months—Charles Sophy—had previously submitted a statement to Judge Sauer prior to her May 4 sentencing in which he said Hilton was "...emotionally distraught and traumatized" by her fear of going to jail.

Every day in every State in the Union, ordinary citizens do stupid things, cross the line, and end up in jail. For most people it's a terrifying experience. To some, it is a very traumatizing one. Thousands of first time offenders all over the country are emotionally distraught when the hollow, empty sound of the steel doors clang shut behind them. Many of them—male and female—are brought to tears. Many of them relive the experience in nightmares. But, once sentenced and jailed, none of them ask the guards if they can go home because they don't like it there. And, none of the jailers send them home with ankle bracelets because jail traumatizes them. No jailer considers it a medical emergency because their psychiatrist believes being jailed might cause the inmate'emotional stress, or that the experience might be so overwhelming that he or she might have a nervous breakdown—or worse, because the prisoner forgot to get a couple of prescriptions filled before surrendering to sheriff.

Sadly, our legal system deliberately practices a form of class distinction in how they administer punishment for "crime"—particularly in the celebrity capital of the world, Los Angeles County. Celebrities are accorded privileges the rest of us don't get. And that, plain and simple, is just wrong! The Constitution of the United States—particularly since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964—requires our system of justice be blind to both class distinctions and ethnicentricity. What that means is the wealthy or the celeb cannot get less of a sentence for a crime—whether felony or misdemeanor—than the poorest or lowest of our citizens. Conversely, minorities—whether social or racial—should not be penalized more because of their less prominent status in the community.

Using Hutton's logic, when televangelist Jim Bakker, the founder of the PTL Television Network and the Heritage USA Christian theme park in North Carolina in the 1980s—a celebrity by the yardstick society measures people—should never have been sent to prison. Bakker was found guilty of overselling his time shares and collecting donations for one charity and using the money for something else. Bakker was sentenced to 45-years in prison in 1989,

Applying Hilton logic to Bakker, the evangelist should have been put under house arrest, not dragged off to prison. After all, he was much more traumatized by his ordeal than Paris Hilton was hers. Bakker, all his problems with the legal system notwithstanding, at least accomplished something with his life. That's more than can be said for Paris Hilton, To date, her life adds up to zero.

Would it surprise you to learn that this completely talentless 26-year old was the 85th best paid celebrity in 2006? It's true. The bimboette earned $6.5 million dollars last year. What did she do for that kind of money? Well, she let the paparazzo take pictures of her as she slid, spreadlegged, from her car sans panties. She did a marginally successful reality TV show. And I guess she did whatever else that talentless bimboettes do to earn money. Most of what she, and the rest of the bimbo-celebs, do is generate sleezy tabloid headlines about themselves and then cash-in from TV talk shows with no better use of airtime than to interview them.

When Baca gave Hilton a "get-out-of-jail-free" card after only 74 hours in the slammer, the public was rightly outraged. And LA District Attorney Rocky Delgadillo—who pushed hard for jail time for the bimboette was outraged more than anyone else—except, perhaps, Judge Michael Sauer who noted that he received a call from the Sheriff's office on Wednesday from an undersheriff who said Hilton had developed a medical condition that could influence the advisability of leaving her in the lockup. He said he would submit the papers to the judge. The papers never showed up. Delgadillo immediately fired off an email to Baca saying, "My office was not advised of this action. Had we been provided with the proper notification, we have opposed the decision on legal grounds." He immediately petitioned the court to revoke "transferring" Hilton to home arrest to complete her sentence.

Hilton's lawyers argued that Sauer's role in this decision was "...to let the Sheriff's Department run the jail," confusing Baca's federal mandate to lighten the Century Regional Detention Facility's population with the judge's absolute authority over sentencing. I can't help thinking such obfuscation, if it occurred, would have been deliberate on the belief that once Hilton's lawyers gained her release from the regional women's detention center the judge—who might not like what happened—would be stuck with it.

Assistant District Attorney Dan Jeffries responded that Hilton's incarceration was solely at the discretion of the judge. And, while he admitted that Baca was under a federal court order to lighten the population at the Century Regional Detention Facility" he noted that the judge's ruling precluded any release program and/or electronic monitoring of Paris Hilton by the sheriff, "Her release after only three days," Jeffries said, "erodes confidence in the judicial system." Hilton's lawyers, who very likely convinced Baca he had the authority It was clear to anyone who read the Judge's ruling—and the handwritten addendum after the appellate court turned down Hilton's appeal for home detention.

Sheriff Baca, by his own admission, was a willing and very complicit partner in the orchestration of Hilton's release. Previously Baca told the Full Disclosure Network that be thought the LA Sheriff's Department "...was a social service agency." (Perhaps the voters will correct that misconception when Baca comes up for election again in 2010—unless he becomes head of security for Hilton Hotels by that time.) Baca said he believed he was "...viewed as a social service sheriff." He apparently believed he was performing a "community service" by sending Hilton home. Had his decision held, it is very likely that race riots would have erupted somewhere in the county that weekend with the flames of discontent fueled by the racial inequity hate-mongers like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Instead, Sauer sent her back to the Century Regional Detention Facility and circumvented what would likely have been a race riot in Los Angeles because rich, white blonde bimbos don't get sent to jail for their sins against society and poor black girls without expensive white lawyers do.

On Thursday Judge Michael Sauer ordered Paris Hilton to appear in his court at 9 a.m the following morning. Sheriff Lee Baca was ordered to appear two hours later. Hilton, stupidly, was a no-show because her lawyers told her she could "appear" via telephone from her palatial detention center. (I am convinced Paris Hilton's lawyers did what they could to keep their client out of Sauer's grasp, believing if she appeared in person she would be taken into custody and remanded to the Century Regional Detention Facility. They should have checked with the judge before advising their client to do something that was guaranteed to make Sauer even more angry than he was on Thursday when he ordered the appearances of the Sheriff and his charge. They didn't. Sauer ordered Hilton into court, at 12:00 noon. An hour earlier,. Sauer rained the riot act on Baca, threatening him with a contempt citation. Sauer did not want to antagonize the LA County's top lawman. And, if he was smart, Baca didn't want to antagonize a judicial appointee, either.

And, in the end, Paris Hilton paid the price, Sauer sent her back to serve her 45 day sentence. But, she's still eligible for good behavior time. (California inmates receive credit for one day for every four days they stay out of trouble—a 25% reduction in their sentence.

When Sauer pronounced sentence, and ordered the Sheriff's deputies to take her into custody, the defiant bimboette with tearstained eyes, shouted, "It's not right!" Then, looking at her parents, she screamed: "Mom!" Not even Mom—not even a wealthy Hilton mom—trumps Judge Sauer in his courtroom. He's not elected. He serves for life. And he's not really worried that someone would short-sheet his bed if he stayed at a Hilton Hotel.

Throughout the brief hearing in which Hilton appeared with disheveled hair and no make-up, the diva sobbed—playing the judge for sympathy that wasn't there—dabbing her eyes conspicuously to make sure the magistrate understood how repentant she was. When she was taken, handcuffed to the county vehicle that would transport her back to the women's detention center, Hilton was reminiscent of a contrite Jim Bakker. Reporters snapped her picture, sobbing in the back seat as she was rushed back to the Century Regional Detention Facility.

The roughest part of this ordeal for Paris Hilton was being treated like the rest of us. This girl has lived the life of the rich and famous so completely that when she was initially incarcerated at the women's detention center, and her cell phone was taken from her, she had to get instructions on how to use a pay phone.

What's my take on the Paris Hilton flap? It was a sheer waste of media airtime that would have been better used exposing crooked politicians. Spoiled little rich kids like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Nicole Ritchie and the whole Hollywood culture are symptoms of a society that has lost its moral compass. I can remember when I was just a young fellow and Hollywood celebrities were role models you could look up to. Or, at least, their publicists made them appear that way. Their deep dark secrets remained in the closet because society was not forgiving of sex perverts and drug addicts. Hilton is where she needs to be. Too bad California law allows for early release. In my opinion, Paris Hilton needs to serve the entire 45 days—plus some.

Well, once again, you have my two cents worth on this subject.



Just Say No
Copyright © 2009 Jon Christian Ryter.
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