Statement By Supervisor Knabe on Reassignment of Paris Hilton

The Los Angeles County Sheriff is an elected official in his own right. As a result, The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has no control over sentencing, release dates or medical assessments of prisoners. That said, I am adamant that if Paris Hilton has been reassigned to house arrest and placed on electronic monitoring, it is imperative that the Sheriff makes every minute of that sentence stick. Paris Hilton needs to serve all 40 days of her full sentence on electronic monitoring.

This incident with Paris Hilton is just the most recent that highlights the problems our criminal justice system has with making sure sentences stick, whether it is in a County jail or under electronic monitoring.

Under current state law, many convicted criminals are allowed to choose between a jail sentence and electronic monitoring by law enforcement. Many criminals are choosing jail time instead of the electronic monitoring option because they know that under the current statistics of the Sheriff’s Department Early Release Program, if they enter the County jail system, they will likely only serve 10-percent of the time they were actually sentenced with, as opposed to serving 100-percent of their sentence on electronic monitoring. The Paris Hilton case is a perfect example of an inmate only serving a fraction of their sentence in jail.

That is why I authored and State Senator Gloria Romero is carrying Senate Bill 959, which will revise the state law to ensure that the decision between electronic monitoring and a jail term is left to the law enforcement community and not in the hands of lawbreakers. If serving a full-sentence through electronic monitoring becomes mandatory for certain non-violent offenders, it will free up much-needed beds in County jails for the very worst offenders, who need to remain behind bars for more than just a fraction of their sentences.

If a criminal receives a 30-day sentence, then why would they agree to be electronically monitored that entire time if they know the loopholes of Early Release mean a 30-day sentence translates into only a few days behind bars?

The choice between the two should not be an option in the hands of convicted criminals. Criminals should not get to choose their punishment simply because one takes less time to complete. Length of punishment belongs in the hands of our judges and when a judge imposes a sentence, that sentence needs to stick.

– Supervisor Don Knabe

County of Los Angeles, Fourth District