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Paris Hilton is a free woman. I repeat, Paris Hilton is a free woman–well, sort of.
The celebutante was released from the Century City Correctional Facility early this morning, report celebrity gossip purveyors TMZ.com and Perezhilton.com. The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department is set to have a press conference later this afternoon. CBS and the Associated Press are reporting that she will be wearing an ankle bracelet and will be confined to 40 days in her home.
According to a lawyer friend of mine, it shouldn’t be too unexpected that the heiress would be released without serving out her 23-day (reduced from 45) sentence. Because of jail overcrowding, most sentences for nonviolent crimes are reduced for as many things as possible: good behavior, first offense, etc.
When I first heard the news, I was a bit outraged. What a tease the justice system can be! Paris violated terms of her probabtion: driving on a suspended license post-DUI. More specifically, she violated three terms of her probabation, according to FindLaw: “She failed to enroll in an alcohol education course within 21 days of her original sentencing, … had several traffic violations after receiving probation,” and “was stopped by L.A. sheriff deputies for driving ‘a new Bentley’ at 70 m.p.h. in a 35 m.p.h. zone ‘in darkness without her headlights on,’ and without a valid driver’s license.” It wasn’t as if she was caught throwing eggs at someone’s house. DUI is a serious, and potentially lethal, infraction.
But then, my outrage quieted and turned to the ennui I experienced everytime I turned to a news show where Ms. Hilton’s incarceration was either the topic of the entire hour or was documentated minute-by-minute at the bottom of the screen. How did Paris Hilton become hard news (as she has been for the past weeks now)? Surely there are more important world events that need to be covered–the G8 summit, Afghanistan, kidnapped children, for example.
Am I as morbidly fascinated to know that Hilton finally took out her blue contacts, reverting to her natural brown eyes and that the other inmates complimented her on her new natural look? Sure I am. And news organizations can justify the coverage by saying they are debating “celebrity justice.” But then you don’t hear much about “Girls Gone Wild” founder Joe Francis’ multiple incarcerations for much more serious offenses that deserve discussion.
I turn to tabloids for my junk-food journalism and hope that CNN (which is reporting on the news) and its bretheren will in the future leave Paris in the entertainment cell block where she belongs. Remember when the Assosciated Press instituted a temporary ban on Paris Hilton news? Good times, indeed.

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