Paris Hilton's Early Check-In
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
LOS ANGELES, June 4
The first thing she might have noticed about the accommodations at the Century Regional Detention Facility is no valet parking.
Find a spot.
The women's jail is off the 105 Freeway, surrounded by the industrial slag of Lynwood, a strip of chop shops backed by smog-fried stucco serf housing, a neighborhood of chain link and pit bull. On Sunday, Paris Hilton lived in the sweetest lotus land of L.A. On Monday, she was bunking down on a thin mattress south of downtown in a jailhouse of 2,200 caged women. The place is ripped from the hard boil of noir pulp. Poor little rich girl? Maybe.
Out: velvet rope. In: metal doors. With locks.
Paris Hilton pulled a fast one on the paparazzi and checked into the slammer early -- after making a surprise appearance on the red carpet at the MTV Movie Awards on Sunday, which showed a kind of gusto, no?
The 26-year-old hotel heiress, party girl and media conglomerate was due at the women's jail here Tuesday morning to serve a 45-day sentence for violating the terms of her probation by driving with a suspended license following a drunk-driving plea. With time off for good behavior, Hilton should be out in three weeks.
News photographers at the jail, who had been camped out for a week, were hoping that Hilton would have turned the traditional perp walk into a catwalk. The county sheriff's department was bracing for a circus, and by last Friday had already arranged for media overflow parking and barricades. But the perp walk was not to be.
After being mobbed on the carpet at the MTV awards Sunday afternoon, Hilton returned home and then surrendered not at the women's lockup but at the county's main jail downtown. According to the investigative gossip Web site TMZ.com, Hilton arrived at the downtown facility with her mother, Kathy, her sister, Nicky, and her lawyer Richard Hutton. Then she was transported to the women's facility for processing around 11:30 p.m. Sunday.
It's easy, maybe, to enjoy seeing Hilton in an orange jumpsuit jammed down the maw of the L.A. criminal industrial complex. And sure, Hilton has a genius of making a cash opportunity out of a mistake, and she'll probably sell her jailhouse diaries for a mint. But hit the pause button for a minute: How many of us want to do 23 days in solitary for a traffic beef? And Paris? This is three weeks without a cellphone, BlackBerry, cocktail, stylist, sushi, handler, publicist or party in her day planner. They haven't invented the methadone for this kind of cold-turkey withdrawal.
According to the Associated Press, Hilton's publicist, Elliot Mintz, spoke with Kathy Hilton after she returned from the jail. "She told me it was very emotional," Mintz said. "She also said that she feels this will be a time when Paris will be able to think and reflect and to spend time alone to learn from the experience, because in Paris's life she's never alone -- there's always a constant chatter around her."
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and his spokesman say that Hilton will be treated like any other inmate (we're sure), though her jailers are taking extraordinary precautions to keep anyone from snapping a photo of Hilton behind bars. The millionaire heiress and star of the "Simple Life" reality show will do her time in a "special needs" cell that is used for high-profile O.J.-style inmates (and cops and politicians) who might cause disruptions if they were mixing in the general population.
The 8-by-12-foot cell is standard-issue county jail (and probably about a third the size of her walk-in closet), with a pair of beds, a sink, table and a metal toilet. There's room for two, but Hilton will likely be kept in isolation and not have a bunkmate (thereby denying a fellow inmate the chance to sell her story to the tabloids).
Hilton will get out of her cell for at least an hour each day to shower, maybe catch herself on "Access Hollywood" on a TV in a day room, do a few minutes of recreation or talk on the telephone. The sheriff has promised no jailhouse TV interviews -- but she is free to talk to the press on the land line.
"I'm ready to face my sentence," Hilton told reporters at the MTV show. "Even though this is a really hard time, I have my family, my friends and my fans to support me, and that's really helpful." She said, "I am trying to be strong right now." Hilton also said, "I'm going to do the time. I'm going to do it the right way."
Monday morning, the sheriff's department released the official Hilton mug shot, and as mug shots go, it's quite flattering. The sometime model and actress is shown with her trademark downward cast, her blond hair swept to the side, her makeup still fresh, her lips glossy, wearing a white V-neck shirt.
After checking in, according to the Associated Press, "Hilton was given her first meal: cereal, bread and juice." Which is better than bread and water, but not quite what she is used to.
Across the street from the jail, somebody has hung a banner that reads: "Save Paris."