CNN LARRY KING LIVE: Will Paris Hilton Go To Jail? (Transcript)
Aired on June 11, 2007
Coming up in our second half hour, Al Sharpton takes the L.A. County sheriff to task for Paris Hilton's early release from jail. And he's not the only one.
We've got the latest on the socialite's current incarceration, which is day to day, just ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those are gorgeous.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congratulations. I heard about the baby.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COMMERCIAL
KING: Welcome back.
Paris has spoken.
And on the other end of the phone line, who else but Barbara Walters?
He's what Barbara had to say this morning on "The View" about her chat with the imprisoned socialite.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE VIEW," COURTESY ABC)
WALTERS: I asked what happened in the jail that led to her being released or reassigned to her home. She said she was not wailing, sobbing or screaming, as had been described. "But," she said, "I was not eating or sleeping. I was severely depressed. It felt as if I was in a cage. I was not myself. It was a horrible experience."
She also told me that she had not been on anti-depressants.
"How are you different?" I asked her.
And she said, "I'm not the same person I was. I know now that I can make a difference, that I have the power to do that. I want to do different things when I'm out of here."
This part I thought particularly interesting: "I used to act dumb. It was an act. And that act is no longer cute. It is not who I am nor do I want to be that person for the young girls who looked up to me."
She said, "I am 26 years old now and it is a different time."
She said, "I have become much more spiritual. God has given me to this new chance."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's meet our panel. Harvey Levin is the managing editor of TMZ.com; Mark Geragos, the famed criminal defense attorney; Susan McDougal, a former client of Mark's, spent 18 months in prison for contempt of court for refusing to answer questions about Bill Clinton during the Whitewater investigation. Reverend Al Sharpton was scheduled to meet with L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca to talk about Paris' release last Thursday; and Tony Potts, "Access Hollywood" correspondent, weekend co-host. He spent some time today outside Paris' home monitoring the madness there.
Now, Harvey, you're a journalist reporting that Paris has a serious problem. What?
HARVEY LEVIN, MANAGING EDITOR, TMZ.COM: She has a severe case of ADD, Larry, and she was taking Adderol. And she also has claustrophobia on top of that. And that's what kind of happened in the jail last week.
KING: Why they let her out?
LEVIN: Because she wasn't getting her proper medicine and she was literally spinning out of control. She was having panic attacks. They said she was just deteriorating. So that's the bottom of the condition.
KING: Reverend Sharpton, what in all of this has angered you so much?
REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Well, Paris Hilton has little to do with what angered me. What came to us at the office of Action Network here is a lot of people started to calling us. I was scheduled to come out anyway and said this would not have happened to me. This is unfair. This is because she's rich. This is because she's white. This is because she's a socialite.
So I said that I wanted to talk to the sheriff to bring to him some cases of people who said they also have health and psychological needs of loved ones that have been ignored.
KING: Did you meet with him?
SHARPTON: We met for about 45 minutes. And I've met with Sheriff Baca before. This is not a showdown. Baca has always been the kind of guy that would talk to people in the community.
KING: Did he...
SHARPTON: He basically said that his problem is that he's under federal consent in terms of overcrowding, which is why it was his decision. He also said that there are 510 or 12 people that are under bracelets now. And he is willing to go through the data with us to say whether those people are unfairly of a certain race.
KING: Did you accept it?
SHARPTON: Well, we're going to see what the data brings out. I think that if there's any good, and I'm not into this whole Paris hysteria, but if there's any good that can come out of this is that we can look at how people with health conditions, psychological differences and overcrowding are treated in the penal system.
She wants to do good. I hope she might think of addressing that. I think we need to get past the celebrity on this. There are some real issues here about the penal system.
KING: Mark, she's not going to appeal. Are you surprised?
MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No. I think they're fatigued. I think the family is fatigued. I think ultimately her scheduled release date is two weeks from today. And they -- if they appeal and they win; she's got to do 38 more days at the house. The house was -- even though people were joking about the Mrs. Beasley's deliveries and everything else, I don't know that another 38 days versus where she is right now at Twin Towers, that at a certain point, I think she wants it behind her.
So no, I'm not surprised. And frankly, given what the reverend was saying, I think that she probably has come to the same realization that a lot of other people have. She didn't -- you know, she is serving more time than anybody else would under a similar set of circumstances. The problem is the fact that the sheriff is not given enough money and he's been under this -- and the previous sheriff has been under this decree for 20 years. Nobody's solved that problem.
KING: What do you learn now? She is in the prison. She's in the jail. She wants to stay in the jail. Why doesn't it just go away? What are you hanging around the house for all day? What for? What do you learn at the house?
TONY POTTS, CORRESPONDENT, "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD": Well, I was down at the jail today, so I was outside of there, talking to people outside of there. One thing I can tell you from somebody I know on the inside is that, Larry, she is on the fourth floor and it is referred to inside those walls as The Dings.
KING: The what?
POTTS: The Dings, D-i-n-g-s as in ding bats. There are a lot of -- quote, unquote -- ding bats inside on that floor. It is also men and women. I can tell you there has been a man in there that has been banging on the wall, has been screaming out Paris' name every night, day in and day out. And it is driving her absolutely crazy to hear this echo off the walls in there. So I don't know if it's getting better for her. Tomorrow, we'll see. Her mother and father are supposed to visit, Larry.
KING: Susan McDougal, she's joining in Camden, Arizona. You were in that same jail. You're in...
SUSAN MCDOUGAL, WHITEWATER CONVICT: I was in Arkansas.
KING: ...I'm sorry Camden, Arkansas, forgive me.
MCDOUGAL: I was on the Ding Floor.
GERAGOS: Yes, she was.
KING: You were on the ding floor.
GERAGOS: I visited her on the Ding Floor more than once.
MCDOUGAL: I was on the Ding Floor.
GERAGOS: Yes, yes.
MCDOUGAL: Yes, Kenneth Starr wanted to make sure that I had a good time while I was there.
KING: What is she going through, Susan?
MCDOUGAL: It is -- when I got out of jail, which I was in jail 22 months in seven different places. The only nightmares I had when I got out was about that cell that she's in on the fourth floor of the Twin Towers' building. That is the only place I woke up and I couldn't breathe. I'd have nightmares about it.
GERAGOS: It was the only place that I ever worried for your mental health because we used to call it sensory deprivation chambers. Susan was...
MCDOUGAL: It is. Mark told me once he wasn't sure I'd make it.
KING: So does this make you particularly worry about her, Susan?
MCDOUGAL: Yes, of course, it does. It makes me worry for all of the women there. The one thing that I thought about when I got out is, you know, there are still people in there because it's not a place that anyone should be -- especially anyhow who has a mental problem. You're locked in a glass cell. You're in 23 hours a day. Everyone is screaming. There's nothing but noise. It's a frightening place because no one ever answers the panic button that's in your room. The entire time I was there nobody ever answered the button that I pushed. If I had been choking or dead, no one would have known. It is the most frightening place that I was in all seven places that I was held during my incarceration.
KING: Harvey, does the punishment fit the crime?
LEVIN: Absolutely not. You know with all due respect, Reverend, you say that celebrity aside, it's not celebrity aside. It's the fact that she's a celebrity and who she is that targeted her. And I think the irony of all this, Larry, is that Paris Hilton, as Mark said, she's serving way more time than anybody else.
But what this overcrowding, the people it really benefits are the poor because that's realistically -- those are the people who are in that jail right now. And they're the ones that get out on early release. So an exception, a big fat exception, was carved out for Paris Hilton.
SHARPTON: But they're also the ones that are there overcrowded. They don't benefit. If you were one or two of the people that may get out -- will benefit. What about the people that, as Ms. McDougal said, that are there that live under overcrowded conditions and don't have a good lawyer like Mark, anyone to stand up for them. So let's not act like they benefit from this. There wouldn't be an overcrowded...
GERAGOS: They're also -- not the overcrowding if it wasn't for the fact that there's a lot of these people who don't have the economic means to...
SHARPTON: That's correct.
KING: Let me get a break.
KING: Up next, the cost of keeping Paris behind -- Paris the Heiress behind bars compared to the price L.A. pays to keep regular people in jail. We'll crunch some numbers when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTERS: She is in a room alone. When she is not in her room, she can play a little ping-pong. She said the other women have all been friendly. And the guards have been fair. She talked about the hundreds and hundreds of letters that she got from fans, what they meant to her. She said she has read them all and some of them have made her cry.
She wears the prescribed prison garb, the orange or brown jumpsuit. She's not allowed to wear make-up. And she also said -- I said "What is that like?" And she said, "Well, my face is very dry. There's no cream in here." But she said, "It doesn't matter. I am not that superficial girl. I haven't looked in a mirror since I've got here."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Hey, we're launching an exciting new venture on LARRY KING LIVE tomorrow night. It will put you right into the picture literally. You'll be able to see yourself right here on this show asking your questions to my guests. All you do is submit your question via cell phone or web-cam. You go to CNN.com/LarryKing and click on send us a video e-mail and maybe the whole world will see you. Tomorrow night, you can ask your question of Larry Birkhead, Anna Nicole Smith's baby's daddy. He's the guest tomorrow night. Modern science.
OK, it's going to cost -- the average prisoner is the cost at that jail is $100 a day and Paris is $1,100 a day. Why?
LEVIN: Because it's expensive to house Paris Hilton.
KING: Why? You give her the same food the others get.
LEVIN: Yes, the food is the same.
KING: And the same cell.
LEVIN: She's in the same cell but you have guards. Listen, she is a disruptive because of who she is. You know just what Susan was saying about people screaming and what Tony was saying about people screaming in there, it causes a raucous and it takes extra staff to deal with all of this. It's not that she's asking for extra stuff.
POTTS: But why is it extra staff when Susan was saying she could have pushed the panic button and nobody ever came for her. So I don't think they really care, do they, on the fourth floor?
LEVIN: It's medicine. It's doctors. It's all sorts of things.
GERAGOS: It's the attention that they bring. They got the K-10 level is what the -- Susan was in that K-10 uniform forever on Murderer's row. And you have all kinds of extra attention that's paid there. It doesn't mean that they do anything extra but there's a lot of bodies there.
LEVIN: Plus there's medicine and there are doctors and there's all -- we checked that out today. And it is 11 times what the average female prisoner is.
KING: Al, did you think that her earlier release was an example of racism?
SHARPTON: I thought her early release smacked -- and then a lot of this came to people coming to National Action Network's offices here -- smacked of a double standard and people didn't understand it. A lot of it was how it was done, in the middle of the night where the judge had made orders that this could not happen. And I think it created a real perception that remains. That's why I want to see the data that this was different strokes for different folks.
I think, however, the issue now is about the people who can afford to have the legal kind of representation she should have. They won't have that attention. I would hope that while she's there, in some way, that we can put focus on people are going through these kinds of things every day that doesn't have the options that Paris Hilton has. Other than that, it's not a big...
KING: Hold on, Tony.
Susan, yes, go ahead.
SHARPTON: I want to know if that's true.
KING: Susan, go ahead.
MCDOUGAL: I just wanted to say quickly one night a woman was arrested on a vehicular charge, a slight charge. She was eight and a half months pregnant. She had to crawl down the cell block to get to her jail cell. She was having a difficulty pregnancy. I begged the guards to let me out of my jail cell to help this woman. Even to go get her food, she had to crawl on one side and pull herself to her food, and beg them, her husband down stairs with bail. But they didn't have the money to get an attorney or someone to help them. And Mark ended up helping this woman.
But I've also seen people -- and I think Gloria Allred is filing a lawsuit that they took a woman's artificial limb and she had to crawl everywhere she was: to the bathroom, to the shower, to the telephone. They took her limb from her. This is definitely racist. It is definitely about class. The entire jail system is about class and racism or 80 percent or 85 percent of the women in there would not be black and Hispanic, mostly black. SHARPTON: Class.
MCDOUGAL: Yes. And when I asked for doctors for a young girl who was about to lose her baby, I said, "This woman is bleeding." And they told me -- they said, "They're not going to send anyone, Susan, they don't have the money; try to help her the best way you can." It is definitely about race and it is absolutely about class.
KING: Let me get a break. We'll be coming right back. We'll be back with more. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF LEE BACA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Now she's back in my custody and she'll stay there. And we want to use her as the example, then that's the case of the judge having an answer for that. So the special treatment, in a sense, is because it appears to be her celebrity status, she got more time in jail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Harvey, any connection between the fact that Paris Hilton's father made political contributions to Sheriff Baca?
LEVIN: You know I read that today in "The L.A. Times." That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen, a thousand bucks. Larry, he bought so much grief by doing what he did and he did it because he felt it was right to do. I mean it was courageous to say I'm going to take this kind of heat but I really believe right is right. And a thousand bucks is not going to be any solace for him.
KING: Riverside, California, hello.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, hello.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This question is for Mark Geragos. He knows as well as I do as an attorney that when you go before a judge, they have all of your prior records so they know what problems they've had in the past. So why does he feel not be any solace for him -- and which Paris Hilton has, why does he feel that that was an unjust sentence?
GERAGOS: I don't think that the sentence was unjust. Like I've said before, a standard sentence for where she was in this county would be 30 days. Forty-five days is not out of whack.
What was unjust, and this is what people don't seem to understand, is that nobody for that kind of an offense serves 45 days. By law, the most you have to do is 30 days. Nobody serves 30 days. The one thing you will not see is somebody on TV saying, "I did a probation violation. I was sentenced to 45 days and I did 23." You're not going to find anybody. And the reason they haven't been on TV is because they're out the door in less than three or four days.
That's what happens in Southern California. The reason for that is the sheriff used to raise the bail. He used to be -- that what they would do is when the sheriff wanted to let people out of jail for overcrowding, he would just say anybody under $10,000, you're going out the back door. Judges would raise the bail higher and then it just became a little game that they were playing between the judges and sheriff.
KING: Isn't drunk driving a terrible crime, though?
SHARPTON: Sure it is. And it's a crime to lead to someone being killed...
SHARPTON: ...and harmed.
KING: It's thoughtless.
SHARPTON: And it should not be taken as something that's light. But I think in the case, as I said to the sheriff today, if overcrowding was a factor, they should have said that. If the factor was that this is something they've done in the last several weeks say that. The reason why the perception is there is the judge said I don't want this to happen. It was done in the middle of the night and everyone was saying how do you do this?
And I think that you create what I think Susan says and what everybody understands is there are different ways you deal with different people in this country. And the worst thing to me that could happen is if she walks out of there and we forget the people that are unfairly subjected to this.
KING: Who screwed up here?
MCDOUGAL: That is the worst thing.
KING: Who screwed up?
POTTS: I think it was the P.R. of the sheriff in a sense.
POTTS: When we were talking about -- because Sheriff Baca came out the next day, his P.R. guy came out the first day and really didn't handle the situation. He should have come out -- because Lee Baca, I thought was convincing on TV. He's a good man. He's trying to do the right thing and had a lot of courage to be coming out and releasing her in that way.
But the spin on it wasn't good enough. And within 24 hours, as we all know, in television, it wraps around the world.
LEVIN: But wait a minute. But wait a minute. There was an overlay of overcrowding. But what happened here was a shrink went in and said she's crashing and burning. They went to the medical staff of county...
POTTS: But who doesn't crash and burn in jail? It's not...
MCDOUGAL: Everybody crashes and burns in there.
KING: Susan, what?
MCDOUGAL: No way. No way. I don't believe it for a moment. Everybody crashes and burns in there.
MCDOUGAL: Mark has told you what I looked like when I was in there. It is the same idea that Mrs. Bush had when she looked at that big coliseum of people in Houston and said, "Boy, they're really better off." If I heard...
LEVIN: Well, how can you say that the sheriff is lying?
MCDOUGAL: ... in jail -- no, no, let me tell you, in jail, everybody looks at those women and they say, they're all better off in jail but not Paris Hilton. She's not better off. I have seen women, literally, overdosing, eyes rolled back in the head laying on the floor dying and they did not get the medical help. And I cannot believe that Paris Hilton is in...
KING: One at a time -- Harvey?
MCDOUGAL: I can't believe that.
LEVIN: But Susan you're right, they should be getting better attention than they're getting. It is a travesty...
LEVIN: ...that they're not. But when you identify somebody with a legitimate medical issue, you can't say, "Well, let them rot because we're letting other people rot."
KING: I've got to get a break.
MCDOUGAL: I don't want Paris Hilton to rot. You have to understand, the quality of mercy is not...
KING: All right, I've got to get a break, Susan. We'll come right back.
MCDOUGAL: ...Paris Hilton, believe me.
KING: We've got to get a break. We'll be right back with more moments. Paris brings it every time. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back up! Back up! Watch your back. Back up! Back up!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I have about two minutes -- a little over two minutes left. Do you feel any sympathy for her, Al?
SHARPTON: I mean I don't like to see anybody suffer. But again, this to me is not about Paris Hilton. This is about the people that are nameless and faceless that are going through this for reasons that are based on class and race that will be forgotten. It's not about Paris Hilton.
KING: When does she get out, Mark?
GERAGOS: Two weeks from today apparently is the time. I don't think the sheriff is going to weather another firestorm and let her out earlier.
KING: That's the 25th?
GERAGOS: Yes, the 25th. I think what really the outrage here is, in a lot of ways, is that you've got so many people and so many women who are in there on bail amounts that are utterly ridiculous. L.A. County's bail schedule is so out of whack to any place else in the state and any place else in the country.
KING: Susan, when you're by yourself for 23 hours, what do you do?
MCDOUGAL: It was the hardest place I've ever been.
One thing I want to say, Harvey Levin, you have such a voice for Paris Hilton, just have that voice for the nameless, faceless women who are in that place every day who are just in the same shape that I was in where I couldn't read, I couldn't talk to people when they came to visit with me. Being locked down 23 hours a day, I began to lose myself and think of the young women, most of them younger than Paris Hilton, all of them younger than me and speak out for them a little bit. There's where the outrage comes in...
KING: All right. Harvey?
MCDOUGAL: ...when those women are not stood up for.
LEVIN: Susan's right. I mean this system is in terrible shape. It's in dire shape. It's underfunded. There are too many people. There are people who are being dealt with on a sub human way there. And I think there's...
MCDOUGAL: Yes. LEVIN: ...a huge problem in the jail. My only point is comparability. If you don't single anybody out, whether they're rich or poor and treat them differently...
KING: All right, I got only 20 seconds.
Tony, any closing comment here? What's going to happen?
POTTS: I think when she gets out, people will be following her. I think the smartest thing that she can do is try to give all of her money to SADD and MADD, and kind of go back that way because she was originally charged with a DUI. If she can do that, she can start to rehabilitate, but don't go to hide, don't go to LeDoux (ph), don't go to all of these places where she's been seen because it will seem disingenuous.
KING: The paparazzi will not end?
POTTS: It will not end.
KING: It will not say let's lay off her?
POTTS: Yes, absolutely not. Harvey's cameras will be there.
KING: Why don't they lay off her?
POTTS: Because she's news and she comes out and she poses. And that's what she does. Until she stops posing and she stays in her house, they're not going to bother her.
KING: Thank you all very much.