"Early release decisions are the province of the sheriff every day due to jail overcrowding, but not always," Parachini told ABC News. "In this particular manner, Judge Sauer was advised yesterday afternoon of the sheriff's intention to release her, and his response was that he reaffirmed the terms of the sentence on May 4."
Thursday when one reporter asked if Hilton had been cut a break by being sent home, sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said, "It's a fair statement, and I don't know if there's any way to address that. … [We're] fully aware of this criticism and this action was taken."
He also said if another person, or a noncelebrity, had the same medical problem as Hilton, he or she would also have been allowed to serve time at home.
Whitmore added, "She has paid her debt to society."
According to statistics from the Bureau of Justice, in December 2005 there were 2.1 million prisoners in federal and state prisons, and local jails. And of those imprisoned, many also had "medical conditions," just as Hilton reportedly had. In 2004, there were more than 6,000 people in prison with AIDS. That year, 204 of people with AIDS in prison died there.
Los Angeles defense attorney Dana Cole found the ruling outrageous, and said that if there was a true medical emergency Hilton should have gone to the hospital.
Cole said, "Many of my clients had all sorts of medical problems and never got out of jail. … One client [had] a grotesque staph infection that was eating away at his leg -- this is common in jail. I tried desperately but could not get him out of jail."
Molly Goodson, the editor of the celebrity news blog PopSugar.com, said the crying effort to get out of jail was part of Hilton's plan all along.
"It was a strategy. … She knew going into it there was a chance she'd get out early. It was the same jail that allowed [Michelle] Rodriguez to leave after three hours of her sentence," Goodson told ABC News.
Hilton was sentenced to jail in May for violating her probation in an alcohol-related reckless driving case, and she started her sentence Sunday night, a minute before midnight, and not without fanfare. First, she attended MTV's Movie Awards, where she was even roasted by the show's host Sarah Silverman.
According to her lawyer, Hilton was holding up in prison after her first night. But her condition deteriorated and rumors spread of her incessant crying, two psychiatric visits, lack of sleep and not eating.
So we're back to the drawing board.
Hilton will spend 40 days behind bars, and if she's lucky, she'll be spared a few days on account of good behavior.
Will the good behavior continue when she's out?
We'll be the judges.
ABC's Pierre Thomas, Lauren Pearle, Arash Ghadishah and Peter Imber contributed to this report.