Maybe you want to find a criminal record, a date of birth, the address of a real property owner or you’re researching a celebrity. At first, I dismissed the Paris Hilton arrest story as just another tiresome case of America’s obsession with celebrities, but this is an opportunity for me to point out the usefulness of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Inmate Information Center search.
Search by first and last name -just first initial and partial last name works, too- to get booking number and date of birth. In this case, I’m searching the name “Paris Hilton”. Select the button showing the booking number, which returns a detail of the arrest: bail, jail housing location, projected release date and court case information. If you go to the Los Angeles County Court Web site you have to pay a fee to search a name in the criminal index, but it’s free at the Sheriff’s site. You won’t get the historical criminal background here, as you would in a search of the court index.
Strangely, the Sheriff’s results list the charging level – whether a misdemeanor or felony – but not the violation. However, this site is useful for finding medical information, in the case of an inmate who is sentenced to a mental health facility (not Paris Hilton). Also, the inmate search has historical information on former inmates, not just those currently incarcerated, although that appears to only cover inmates released in the last 6 months.
On to criminal justice issues. An ironic twist is noted in the Los Angeles Times. The disparity in time served in jail between the rich and the ordinary, that some cited when Paris Hilton was released after spending 4 days behind bars, may not fall as these cases usually do.
The Times analyzed 2 million jail releases and found 1,500 cases since July 2002 that — like Hilton’s — involved defendants who had been arrested for drunk driving and later sentenced to jail after a probation violation or driving without a license.
Had Hilton left jail for good after four days, her stint behind bars would have been similar to those served by 60% of those inmates.
But after a judge sent her back to jail Friday, Hilton’s attorney announced that she would serve the full 23 days. That means that Hilton will end up serving more time than 80% of other people in similar situations.
Isn’t it a bit unseemly that the Los Angeles Times analyzed 2 million jail releases and all they have to report is that one rich person is spending more time in jail than the thousands of poor people, who are the everyday residents?