As much as we all delight in the ignominy of the beautiful and wealthy Paris Hilton sitting in a jail cell like a common criminal, this is bad public policy and it costs us all.
All people should be treated alike and to the amusement of tens of millions, this flighty butterfly was sentenced to 45 days in jail just like every ordinary Joe...as only the brain dead do not know.
She is out now after a mere 48 hours, which is driving the media and public into an apoplectic meltdown.
But the fact that this non-violent addict was sent to jail is precisely what is wrong with our prison and justice system. With 2.2 million people behind bars --- ranking first per capita in the world --- the US rate of incarceration is five times what it should be. Our jails hold 25 percent of the world's inmates while our population is only 5 percent.
Nearly 800,000 people are in jail for drug offences, according to a Justice Department study released last September, and nearly 60 percent of inmates reported mental health problems within the past year.
What a shock! Jails are filled mostly with addicts and the mentally ill?
But what is an equal outrage is that jails do precious little...at great cost to the public coffers...to help these people and more importantly protect the general public from future crimes and murderous drunk drivers.
The gorgeous Ms. Hilton undoubtedly has a problem with drugs and alcohol. This Goldilocks is an addict and probably has a co morbidity problem with a personality disorder and inflated narcissism.
She needs help and her arrest for probation violation --- driving without a license, etc. --- is a perfect opportunity for the justice system to impose such help. She certainly is not going to get it on her own.
She should have been referred to one of the 1,699 Drug Courts in the US, like the one they have in Brooklyn. They could have adjourned her case with extensive supervision, provided she adheres to strict conditions:
1. Attend a strict rehab program with group therapy and psychodynamic components to address her narcissism and sense of entitlement, not some of the pseudo spa rehab joints they have in LA.
2. Enroll in a 12-step program with verified attendance for six months.
3. Weekly drug and alcohol testing for one year.
4. Individual therapy as needed.
To be sure, rehab doesn't work all the time, but with a draconian sword of a six-month jail cell hanging over her head, Ms. Hilton might have a chance to deal with her demons. As it now stands --- with Paris under a wimpy house arrest for 40 days --- tabloid readers the world over will continue to delight in the foibles and degradations of a young woman who is in real trouble.
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