'View' co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck calls Hilton release "disgusting"
By Christopher Rocchio and Steve Rogers, 06/07/2007
Paris Hilton was mysteriously reassigned from prison to home confinement after serving only three days of what was supposed to be a 23-day sentence and -- surprise, surprise -- the ladies on ABC's The View weighed-in with their opinions during Thursday morning's live broadcast of the ABC daytime talk show.
"I think we learned when you're rich and you're hot... the legal system will let you off the hook," said The View co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck. "And I think it's disgusting. I really do."
Citing unidentified "medical reasons," Los Angeles County prison officials released the 26-year-old The Simple Life star from jail shortly after midnight on Thursday, only three full days after she began serving a minimum 23-day sentence Sunday night for violating her probation on a September 2006 drunken driving misdemeanor. Instead of remaining behind bars, Hilton was reassigned to home confinement for the next 40 days where her most important fashion accessory will be an ankle bracelet monitoring her whereabouts.
"That's terrible!" said Hasselbeck in a mocking tone when discussing the home confinement. "I'd like to be assigned to her home."
Following her DUI last September, Hilton initially got off pretty lightly with three years' probation and the requirement that she "obey all laws" and enroll in alcohol education classes within 21 days. But she was arrested once again in Los Angeles for driving without a valid license in February, which led prosecutors to recommend that she serve time behind bars for violating her earlier probation from the DUI. She was sentenced to 45 days in jail for violating her probation and was required to report to jail by Tuesday, June 5.
However jail officials eventually reviewed Hilton's case and -- citing overcrowded jail conditions and a California statute that grants credit for good behavior -- informed her she would only have to serve "at least 23 days" for the parole violation.
"She is my new idol... This girl can get out of more things than [magician] David Copperfield," commented co-host Joy Behar. "I've never seen anything like it. I revere her now for having pulled this off."
Hasselbeck said she was more upset about the legal precedent that was set by Hilton being reassigned.
"I think it sets such a horrible precedent in terms of law... lawfulness, or unlawfulness as I might refer to it now. I'm just so concerned because what does this say from now on?," questioned Hasselbeck before answering herself. "In terms of legal issues and criminal issues, precedent is everything, and now we have a new one, and it's hers. Congratulations Paris."
During a Thursday morning news conference, Los Angeles Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore told reporters that Hilton was "reassigned" (not "released," Whitmore insisted) from jail after "extensive consultation with medical personnel" had determined that Hilton was having unspecified "medical issues" -- an explanation that The View's panel wasn't buying.
"I wonder how the country feels. What happens when another inmate who feels bad... We don't know what the medical issues are," said co-host Barbara Walters. "We do know that she was okay Sunday night before she went into jail. She went to the [MTV Movie Awards]."
"Maybe this was not a preexisting condition," supposed Hasselbeck. "Obviously it was onset by prison. She was stressed out. I'm sure no one else is when you get into prison."
Following her reassignment, Hilton's lawyer released a statement to the website TMZ.com which expressed The Simple Life star's gratitude but failed to clarify any of the "medical issues" that Whitmore, citing privacy laws, said he couldn't disclose.
"I want to thank the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and staff of the Century Regional Detention Center for treating me fairly and professionally," read the statement, according to TMZ.com. "I am going to serve the remaining 40 days of my sentence. I have learned a great deal from this ordeal and hope that others have learned from my mistakes."
However the women on The View said they feel that's just another problem with the situation, becaue in their eyes, Hilton didn't spend enough time behind bars to learn anything.
"People respect justice and responsibility and accountability," said Hasselbeck, "and I don't think that we're seeing any of those things in this case."
Behar said she hears young girls talk about how much they want to emulate celebrities like Hilton, describing the reassignment from the pokey to home confinement as "a disservice to kids."
"[Kids are] paused in this world of celebrity and I think it prevents them in a way from becoming who they really could be, if there is that potential there," said Hasselbeck. "They almost become the identity that the media feeds into, and I'm just concerned because people are going to look at this and say [Hilton] is somebody's role model -- scary enough -- but they're looking at her... You could use this as saying, 'Look what happened to Paris. She went, and she did this and now look what happened to her.' Now what are they gonna say? She got off easy, she got to keep her extensions and she's out of prison."
Dissatisfied with the way Hilton's sentencing turned out, Hasselbeck offered what she believes would be the best form of discipline.
"I think the press should not follow her anymore," she said. "I think that would be the ultimate punishment for Paris."
Later in the day, Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, whose office handled Hilton's case, also criticized the decision to "reassign" Hilton to house arrest and announced that he had ordered his staff to further investigate the situation.
"Today I was extremely troubled to learn that the Sheriff's Department has decided to release Ms. Hilton from custody just three days after she was admitted to county jail," Delgadillo said in a statement, according to People. "Had we been provided with the proper notification, we would have opposed the decision on legal grounds."
"I am also concerned that the judicial process may have been improperly circumvented in this case," Delgadillo added. "I have directed my criminal branch to immediately explore all possible legal options to ensure that the law is being applied equally and justly in this case."
Similar to the comments of The View's co-hosts, Delgadillo also reportedly stated that he found the prison officials "medical reasons" explanation "puzzling" and noted that the county's prison facilities are "well-equipped" to deal with inmates' medical needs.
"If law enforcement officials are to enjoy the respect of those we are charged with protecting, we cannot tolerate a two-tiered jail system where the rich and powerful receive special treatment," said Delgadillo. "We must ensure that in our city, in our nation, and under our Constitution, justice remains blind."