LOS ANGELES -- Paris Hilton was sent screaming and crying back to jail yesterday after a judge ruled that she must serve out her sentence behind bars rather than in the comfort of her Hollywood Hills home.
As she was led away to jail for a parole violation, the disheveled heiress wailed, "Mom, Mom! It's not right!"
Her journey to the courthouse wasn't quite the scene of police chasing O.J. Simpson, but Hilton was part of the official caravan that garnered live television coverage. A crying Hilton sat in the back seat of a patrol car, wearing handcuffs and sweats.
She had served only a little more than three days of her sentence when Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca decided she was too ill to serve more time.
But the Hilton affair has moved beyond the courtroom to become as much of a media circus as a test case on whether wealth and notoriety buy special treatment from the judicial system.
Baca defended the decision to release Hilton for unspecified medical reasons, but the city attorney's office, which prosecuted Hilton, demanded a hearing to return Hilton to jail.
Assistant City Attorney Dan Jeffries said the reason given for Hilton's release made the case unusual and raised questions about special treatment. He said that releasing inmates because of overcrowding was common but that in his 25 years as a prosecutor, he could remember only two or three instances in which people were let go early for medical reasons. In each case, he said, the individual was extremely ill.
The judge in the case, Michael T. Sauer, originally sentenced Hilton to 45 days in jail after she repeatedly violated her probation on alcohol-related reckless driving charges.
Hilton surrendered late Sunday night to the Sheriff's Department after a surprise appearance at the MTV Movie Awards. She was taken to Lynwood's Century Regional Detention Facility. Reports quickly surfaced that she was depressed.
A little more than two hours into Thursday morning, she legally left the jail with an electronic monitoring device and orders to spend 40 days confined to her Spanish-style home. The narrow cell would fit comfortably on a small part of the house's veranda.
Hilton's twisted jailhouse saga began Sept. 7, when she failed a sobriety test after police saw her weaving down a street in her Mercedes-Benz on what she said was a late-night hamburger run.
She pleaded no contest to reckless driving and was sentenced to 36 months' probation, alcohol education and $1,500 in fines. In the months that followed, she was stopped twice while driving on a suspended license. The second landed her in Sauer's courtroom.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.