Paris Hilton vs. The Drug War: Let's Call it a Draw


Paris Hilton isn't exactly a paragon of civic virtue, but it's nevertheless encouraging to note her semi-victory over the Nevada criminal justice system's notoriously tough stance towards drugs. When she was arrested on August 28th after less than a gram of coke spilled out of her purse, legal experts predicted that her wild past would land her in jail:

Lisa Bloom told "Early Show on Saturday Morning" co-anchor Chris Wragge she thinks Hilton is "probably" staring at more jail time if she's convicted. "In Nevada," Bloom explained, "the sentence for a conviction of a Schedule 2 narcotic, which is what cocaine is, is probation-to-four years if it's a relatively small amount. If it's a larger amount, four grams or more, it could be up to 20 years in state prison. Assuming it's a small amount, I don't think she would get probation this time. … She has a prior conviction in California. We remember the reckless endangerment charge. And she violated her probation twice in California. So, if she's convicted, I expect her to do some time on this."

" … Nevada is a very tough law and order state, notwithstanding Las Vegas' reputation. Judges are very tough there on drug crimes," Bloom added.

After pleading guilty to two misdemeanors, the heiress will get a year of probation and 200 hours of community service. But it's an empty victory for Hilton and indeed for society at large: it turns out that even celebrities can have their lives seriously interrupted over the possession of about $50 worth of drugs. And in 2009, 11% of male inmates and 22% of female inmates in Nevada's state penal system were there for non-violent drug crimes, accounting for about 1400 prisoners.