Celeb reality ― get out of jail free card?

Paris Hilton is in the news once again. If you don’t already know, police officers pulled Hilton and her boyfriend, Cy Waits, over when they smelled marijuana smoke coming from their car. Hilton was arrested after a small bag of cocaine was found in her purse. But this is nothing new. The socialite was also caught with less than a gram of marijuana in July, was found allegedly smoking marijuana at the World Cup in South Africa, and went to jail three years ago for driving with a suspended license.

Paris Hilton did not commit a felony and will not go to jail for years, if convicted, but will she receive the punishment she deserves?

Every time I turn on the news, it’s as if the celebrities flip a coin to see who will show up in the news this week. Either T.I. will be arrested for drug possession, “Housewives” star Sonja Morgan will be arrested drunk driving, or Rudy Giuliani’s daughter will be arrested for shoplifting. Their trials are reported on and followed by fans and gossip enthusiasts for days, weeks, maybe months, but then magically it seems their punishment doesn’t seem that bad, or even fitting.

Paris Hilton went to jail for three days for driving with a suspended license. Average Joes can be sitting in a cell for up to one year for the same offense. In 2004, when Martha Stewart was convicted of obstruction of justice and lying to investigators, reporters said she could face years in jail. Do you remember how long Stewart was wearing a jumpsuit? Five months.  Is that fair?

I’m not saying every celebrity or socialite gets off without a hitch. Lindsey Lohan is one of the recent celebrities to receive jail time. Lohan received probation for DUI charges in 2007 agreeing to attend weekly alcohol education classes, but Lohan didn’t hold up to her end of the deal. She skipped nine of her required classes – ending up with three 30-day back-to-back sentences. She deserved to go to jail. Fans may think her sentence was too long, but I don’t.

The police are required to protect and serve, but their duty stops at the court house doors. They arrest the celebrities who commit a crime, but when it comes to their trials, court hearings, and punishments, those are left in the hands of juries, judges, and big shot lawyers.

Why do celebrities only go to jail for miniscule amounts of time? Or why are they only sentenced to garbage cleanup on the side of the road? As people, we love to gossip and love to find out the latest drama going on in the lives of celebrities. Who just got a DUI? Who just financed a dog fighting business? Who just broke their probation?  How long is their sentence? Where are they going to prison? What is life like in prison? Are they going to clean up their act when they get out?

Admit it. You’ve asked yourself one of these questions. Don’t deny your interest in the media. But realize we are the reason celebrities don’t get the jail time they deserve. It’s not interesting if celebrities go to jail for four years or have house arrest and no one hears from them.

Celebrities should be just like us. People who need to abide by rules and laws or serve the punishment that fits the crime when they don’t. I realize I can’t change our fascination with celebrities and the media, but maybe if everyone did, celebrities wouldn’t get off so easily.

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