From the camera flashes on the red carpet of a Hollywood awards show to the walls of a jail cell...hat a difference a day makes when...
LYNWOOD, Calif. – Paris Hilton was doing well after spending her first night of her probation sentence in solitary confinement at a Los Angeles County jail, her lawyer said Monday.
“She’s using this time to reflect on her life, to see what she can do to make the world better and hopefully, in my opinion, to change the attitudes that exist about her among many people,” attorney Richard A. Hutton told reporters after visiting Hilton.
The 26-year-old hotel heiress checked into the Century Regional Detention Facility in suburban Los Angeles just after 11:30 p.m. Sunday to serve 23 days for violating probation in an alcohol-related reckless driving case.
Hilton surrendered after a surprise appearance earlier that day at the MTV Movie Awards, where she worked the red carpet in a strapless designer gown. Now in jail-issued clothes, Hilton was being housed in a special unit where she was spending 23 hours a day in a solitary cell, Hutton said.
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“If she was an ordinary citizen she would have been placed in the general population. … She’d be living in a dorm with 30, 40, 50 other women and the time would pass pretty quick,” Hutton said. “She is really being punished because of her celebrity.”
A spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which runs the jail, said Hilton was easy to work with.
“Her demeanor was helpful. She was focused; she was cooperative,” said sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore.
Hilton, accompanied by her mother, surrendered at the Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles. She was then escorted to the women’s facility in Lynwood, where she was booked, fingerprinted, photographed, medically screened and issued an orange top and pants, Whitmore said.
Hilton’s booking photo showed the heiress wearing what appeared to be a V-neck shirt, eye makeup and lip gloss that highlighted a slight smile. Her long blond hair was draped over one shoulder. After checking in, Hilton was given her first meal: cereal, bread and juice.
The “Simple Life” star was in the “special needs” unit of the 13-year-old jail, separate from most of its 2,200 inmates. The unit contains 12 two-person cells reserved for police officers, public officials, celebrities and other high-profile inmates. Hilton’s cell has two bunks, a table, a sink, a toilet and a small window.
Like other inmates in that unit, Hilton will take her meals in her cell and will be allowed outside the 12-foot-by-8-foot space for at least an hour each day to shower, watch TV in the day room, participate in outdoor recreation or talk on the telephone. No cell phones or BlackBerrys are permitted in the facility, even for visitors.
Although the accommodations are sparse for Hilton, it’s a step up from the general population.
Teresa Jones, 50, of Lancaster, called the jail “so filthy it’s worse than skid row.” At check in, jailers hand out a pamphlet on infections, which are common, she said.
“That place is hell; it’s awful. Life is easy compared to this,” Jones said.
The jail, a two-story concrete building next to train tracks and beneath a bustling freeway, has been an all-female facility since March 2006. It’s in an industrial area about 12 miles southeast of downtown.
When Hilton was sentenced May 4, the judge ruled she would not be allowed any work release, furloughs or use of an alternative jail or electronic monitoring in lieu of jail.
Despite believing she received an unfair punishment, Hilton was taking responsibility by serving her time, her attorney said.
“She knows it’s wrong, but her attitude is, ‘I’m going to come in here, I’m going to do my time, I’m going to get it over with and I’m going to show the world who I really am,”‘ Hutton said.
Officers arrested Hilton in Hollywood on Sept. 7. In January, she pleaded no contest to the reckless-driving charge and was sentenced to 36 months of probation, alcohol education and $1,500 in fines.
She was pulled over by California Highway Patrol on Jan. 15. Officers informed Hilton she was driving on a suspended license and she signed a document acknowledging she was not to drive. She then was pulled over by sheriff’s deputies on Feb. 27, at which time she was charged with violating probation.