Thursday, June 07, 2007

Who Is Running the L.A. County Jails?

This morning, I awoke to the news that Paris Hilton was being released after three days. This of course led me to curse and start to lose faith in the justice system (and having worked on both sides of it, I've seen it work well, work ok, and work terribly, but usually coming back to close to where it should be.) According to the reports, she was being "reassigned" to house arrest for "medical" reasons. It has been speculated that her legal team put together a case that she was on verge of a nervous breakdown.

So let's see, she sheds some tears and she gets to go home to her mansion, with her only restriction that she can not leave it and has to wear an ankle bracelet. Yeah, sounds like the Pablo Escobar version of doing time sans the heavy weapons.

The answer to the question (who runs the L.A. County Jails) is that it is Sheriff Lee Baca. It was Baca, not the Superior Court nor the District Attorney's office who has control over Hilton while she is in custody. Interestingly, it was a unilateral decision by Baca's office that permitted her to leave. This after the court which senteced her stated that she had to serve her time in jail and specifically stated that she could not serve her time in an alternative program.

Now, I'm sure with cases where there is not this level of scrutiny, Baca could have transferred her without anyone realizing it. On the other hand, with everyone and their mother watching, he went and created a media frenzy.

Given the almost guarranteed coverage of Hilton leaving early, it's almost as if he wanted to thumb his nose at the court. In either event, Baca looks to be in hot water, since even his attorney, in this case the Sheriff is represented by the County Attorney's Office, is saying that if they had known about Baca's decision, they would have opposed it on legal grounds.

Fortunately, someone at the Los Angeles County City Attorney's Office was on the ball and filed a request for an order to show cause why the Sheriff should not have her reincarcerated at the L.A. County Jail. The judge, apparently, signed the order and the hearing has been set for tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.

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