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What Should Congress Do About Immigration?; Paris Hilton Released to Home Confinement; Founder Defends Creation Museum
Aired June 07, 2007 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, senators fight over the immigration bill.
STEVE WHITMORE, L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF`S DEPARTMENT: This is why we can`t work together.
SMERCONISH: With millions of immigrants waiting in the wings, the Senate says uno momento, por favor.
And Paris receives a get out of jail free card.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paris Hilton would be reassigned to our community based alternative to custody electronic monitoring program.
SMERCONISH: Huh? I`ll tell you how this went down. And what`s next for the hotel heiress.
Plus, the amazing story of a missing teen found alive in a neighbor`s closet one year later. All this, and more, tonight.
SMERCONISH: Good evening. I`m Michael Smerconish from Philly, in tonight for Glenn Beck.
Paris Hilton is out of jail and under house arrest in her luxurious home. It`s unbelievable. We`ll have more on Paris and whether she`s benefiting from a legal double standard in just a moment.
But first, the rickety Senate coalition stitching the current immigration proposal together is even more tenuous after voting today. And here`s the point.
This bickering is useless. Stop tomorrow`s illegals today, by sealing up that border now. That should be our first and only priority. And here`s how I get there.
An amendment to disqualify hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from legalization was defeated in the Senate yesterday. Another to extend visas to hundreds of thousands more relatives of U.S. citizens and green card holders failed, as well. But they`re not out of the woods, or through the desert yet.
While you were sleeping, the Senate voted 49-48 to shut down the bill`s proposed guest worker program after five years, which may or may not upset the delicate coalition ushering the deal through the Senate.
I know, it`s all so complicated. But for my money, the first step should be easy. Until we turn off the faucet, until we dam up the river, until you comp with an analogy, say whatever you want. We`ve just got to secure the border and do it now.
Any talk of guest worker programs or Z visas, I say, is premature. I can`t help but wonder why we`re trying to eat dinner before we set the table.
And don`t misunderstand; this is a serious problem. It requires a serious solution, and soon. But I`m worried that some GOP leaders in the Senate and the White House are willing to mortgage the chance to solve this problem correctly for a chance to claim mission accomplished for the Bush administration.
The issue of illegal immigration is too complicated to make a moving target. And that`s why my advice to the Congress is this: slow down, catch your breath, and do it right. This is too important to rush through.
But first things first: secure the borders, and stop the flow of illegals now. Then it will be time to deal with the ones who managed to beat us to the border.
Joining me now is Mike Allen from the Politico.
Mike, without making our eyes glaze over, what elements are they fighting about today?
MIKE ALLEN, THE POLITICO: Well, Michael, you`re making me hungry with all that talk of setting the table. But -- so forgive me if my stomach rumbles.
But as you mentioned, one of the ideas that they have is a five-year end to the visa program that`s sort of at the core of this. And the question is, can you take one more card out of the house of cards? Or what is the -- is it Jinga that they called it with those glasses where you take one glass out of the bottom on New Year`s Eve? I tried that once, and it didn`t work so well.
And so, because of the way this is so delicately stitched together, rickety as you put it, any amendment that passes, somebody can use it as an excuse to get off the train.
And so that`s why your advice to go slowly is what the Republicans are pushing for, whereas the Democratic leader, Harry Reid says, look, we need to get this done, and move on...
SMERCONISH: But the Republicans aren`t giving me what I`m looking for. I mean, it`s inexcusable to me that they`re voting at midnight, which is literally what they did last night, or this morning, however you`d like to put it. I mean, that tells me that there`s such a rushed environment.
Why not secure the border, catch your breath, go home, take a summer recess, and then let`s sort this problem out?
ALLEN: Right. Michael, there is an unbelievable amount of cramming on Congress, just as there is in broadcasting or newspapers, as well. But you`re right: there`s days and days go by that nothing happens, and then you get an incredible rush like this.
Now, I will tell you why Republicans say about why they don`t do exactly what you prescribed, which they should do more often, why they don`t secure the borders first is, they say that you need some sugar with the spinach. That Democrats -- that Republicans know that if they pass just a border security bill, the Democrats will never vote for the -- that there never will be a guest worker program, and vice versa. So they -- that`s why they`re attempting the grand bargain.
SMERCONISH: Mike, I`m even more concerned about that which I`ve expressed so far on the program today, after reading what Ed Meese wrote in today`s "Wall Street Journal".
And by the way, here`s another lesson. I mean, there`s no bigger Reaganite than Ed Meese. And he came out against this deal. And one of the points that he made is he said that the proposed legislation provides an extendible 18-month period in which people may apply for probationary Z- visas. And that window of opportunity is going to cause another flood of illegals to try and come into the country and take advantage of it.
ALLEN: Right. Michael, I think you`re very astute to bring that up. There are unbelievable logistical problems with this.
Spencer Shoe (ph) in the "Washington Post" had a great story over Memorial Day weekend about how unbelievably, scandalously bogged down and behind the immigration agency is. There`s no way that we can quintuple their workload and have any hope of doing it.
And that`s why the more people look into the details, the less likely they are to be for it. The people who are for it are the people who are looking at the long-term needs of the party.
SMERCONISH: Let me ask you another -- another one that is bothering me. I`m fortunate. I speak English. I`m the product of a pretty good education, went to a fine law school. I can`t comprehend my tax returns, the IRS code and so forth. How in the world...
ALLEN: Just send it in. Send it in.
SMERCONISH: H&R Block, baby. How in the world are these folks who are here illegally going to be able to follow the rules of what`s -- I can`t comprehend what the hell Congress is doing today.
ALLEN: No, I think that that`s a good point. And there is definitely a compassion issue here. Because that`s what really irked me about the "Washington Post" report, is that the immigration agency charges these people who are working very hard for very little money unbelievable fines just to keep their applications circulating. And they may wind up being turned down.
So there would be a tremendous opening here for churches and volunteers, civic charitable groups, to help immigrants navigate this.
SMERCONISH: One more aspect that I`ve got to get to with Michael Allen from the Politico. We really appreciate you being here.
All this action today in the last 36 hours has been in the Senate. You know, wait until they get to the House. I mean, what are the prospects -- if this gets out of the Senate, what are the prospects of this currently getting through the House?
ALLEN: Michael, they`re bleak. And it`s for two reasons. First is that the polling data that the Senate Republican leadership is looking at shows that less of the majority supports it, among Democrats, Republicans and independents separately.
So you get to the House where there`s a lot of people in 50/50 districts. They`re not going to want to take that chance. And separately, Speaker Pelosi is not going to want to give the president a victory. This is something that would be in the first paragraph of George Bush`s legacy.
SMERCONISH: It`s unbelievable to me, Michael. I`m giving them the out. They can all go home and get reelected in the next cycle. Seal the blanking border. Then we sort it out.
ALLEN: Likewise. Good night.
SMERCONISH: All right. Coming up, apparently, three full days in jail was enough for Paris Hilton. She`s home under house arrest. That`s great for her, but could it spell trouble for our justice system?
And he`s arguably the most popular candidate not running for president. Well, at least not yet. Does Al Gore have what it takes to take another shot at the White House?
Plus the bizarre circumstances surrounding a girl found in a closet after having been missing for more than a year. Could she have been there willingly? We`ll have all the latest details. Stick around.
SMERCONISH: Coming up in just a bit, the strange story of a 15-year- old Connecticut girl missing for almost a year. She`s been found alive. But what happened? Did she run away? Was she kidnapped? Some combination of the two? We`ll check that story a little bit later.
Well, Paris Hilton was released -- excuse me, reassigned from prison early this morning and transferred to another facility that happens to be her million-dollar home. She`s going to serve out the remainder of her original 45-day sentence under house arrest, performing such back-breaking tasks as Pilates classes and sun bathing by her pool.
Here`s how the L.A. sheriff`s office explained it all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHITMORE: After extensive consultation with medical personnel, including doctors here at CRDF, it was determined that Paris Hilton would be reassigned to our community-based alternatives to custody electronic monitoring program. And what that means is this: she has been fitted with an ankle bracelet, and she has been sent home. And she will be confined to her home for the next 40 days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: So, was Paris really sick, or did she receive special treatment?
Joining me now is Lisa Bloom, an anchor at Court TV, and Jody "Babydol" Gibson, author of "Secrets of a Hollywood Super Madam". She`s also served some time in the same prison that Paris was recently sprung from.
By the way, Babydol, you and I are not acquainted. Let`s just get that straight.
JODY "BABYDOL" GIBSON, AUTHOR, "SECRETS OF A HOLLYWOOD SUPER MADAM": Correct.
SMERCONISH: Paris couldn`t do four days. You did two and a half months in that can. How tough was it?
GIBSON: Well, you know, I spoke a lot in the last week or two about how really severe that unit is. So there was no special treatment. That`s a 23-hour lockdown unit.
However, I`ve got to tell you, this is really a bit of an outrage, because 72 hours, you know, when it`s a charge that relates to drinking and driving, sends out a very dangerous message to all the 17-year-olds that emulate Paris. They think it`s really OK, because now maybe they`ll just get 72 hours. And it`s really a travesty.
SMERCONISH: Well, Lisa Bloom, it is a case of special treatment. And the special treatment is that, were she not a wealthy socialite, or whatever she is, she`d have never gone to prison to begin with.
LISA BLOOM, COURT TV: Well, I don`t know about that. She had three chances. One was not to drunk drive in the first place. The second was to comply with the terms of her probation, which she didn`t do twice. And then she was sentenced to 45 days. It was reduced to 23 days. She served a total of three days.
I think this is a shameful day in our justice system. You know, 36 percent -- 36 percent of female inmates in jails suffer from medical conditions more serious than Paris Hilton`s rashes. We`re talking about diabetes, cancer, heart conditions. They don`t get out. And why? Because they`re not wealthy, white celebrities who are pretty, and who have lawyers who somehow manage to...
SMERCONISH: Here`s my question. Do those who are not pretty, white celebrities and those other factors, did they go to jail to begin with for doing what she did?
BLOOM: Absolutely. They don`t get as many chances as she does. You know, we take drunk driving very seriously in this country for good reason, because people die from it every day. Families are ripped apart from drunk driving.
And we`ve made a decision decades ago that we`re going to get tough on drunk drivers. People go to prison for life for an accidental drunk driving homicide. People go to prison for years for a drunk driving accident that causes an injury, and people definitely go to prison for more than a few days for drunk driving arrests.
GIBSON: Let me add something -- let me add something here that Mike shed some light on this, too, that this whole guise of it being a medical reason.
I saw a girl when I was in that facility that had a complication from an intrauterine device, which for some your viewers, is one of the most serious complications for a woman. It`s a device that`s placed in her uterus to avoid her from getting pregnant.
And this girl was operated on by the county jail house doctor with no medication, no anesthesia and no painkillers. When I saw her come back from that operation, she looked like she got hit by a truck. And that girl did not get to go home.
SMERCONISH: So you`re telling me, Babydol, that while you were in that same facility, there were those who what would appear to have been far worse medical conditions than whatever Paris had and they had to stay?
BLOOM: Let me tell you something. The medical services unit of the L.A. County Sheriff`s Department trumpets on its web site that they treat 8 million inmates a year for a full range of medical problems. They dispense one million prescriptions every month to inmates.
You know, they treated people with rashes before, Michael. They treat people with more serious injuries. They don`t spring them.
SMERCONISH: Lisa, where does the culpability lie? In other words, if I buy into your idea that it was special treatment that sprung Paris Hilton, then who`s the bad guy, or the bad woman?
BLOOM: The person in the sheriff`s department that made some kind of deal.
BLOOM: Paris Hilton and her attorneys. Why is it always the middle of the night? She gets out in the middle of the night, 2 a.m. This morning. She went in in the middle of the night Sunday night. I mean, this woman has gotten extraordinary special treatment.
And there should be an investigation into this sheriff`s department why this woman gets out with a rash, based on a drunk driving underlying charge, when there are people with cancer and HIV, and they don`t get out.
SMERCONISH: Babydol, have you ever had restrictions where you had to wear an ankle bracelet?
GIBSON: No. I did -- I did every day and then some. You know, you do the time and -- you do the crime, you do the time.
SMERCONISH: Lisa, is she going to be able to use the BlackBerry sitting by the pool?
BLOOM: I see no reason why she can`t. She can be in that mansion. She`s got 4,000 square feet to roam around in. I mean, it is shameful.
SMERCONISH: What does she do for a living? That`s the $64,000...
BLOOM: She`s a model. She makes a living legitimately. She is a model. She`s a celebrity spokesperson. I have no problem with that.
But she is not a role model. This woman is known for being in porn films and for drunk driving. Anybody who lets their children put her poster up on the wall as a role model needs to take a hard look in the mirror as to what we`re teaching our children. I think that is a disgrace.
SMERCONISH: Babydol, you`re not going to sit there and let her speak ill of the porn industry, are you?
GIBSON: You know -- you know, I went on and I did say how horrible the facility was, and initially I had a lot of sympathy for Paris being in there.
However, at least a few weeks -- they should have kept her in there at least a few weeks because of the dangerous message that this sends to all the 17-year-old girls that think now they can get away with it, too.
SMERCONISH: Yes. To the extent that they look up to her, and I fear that they do.
BLOOM: They shouldn`t.
SMERCONISH: As some kind of a role model. I guess there`s something to the effect that, well, Paris got out and I can get out. And...
SMERCONISH: The question I have is whether anyone else would have gone in to begin with.
But Lisa, you know, I yield to you. You claim that someone else with different demographics would have had to go do the time and fulfill the obligation.
BLOOM: I mean, look, a third of the inmates have more serious medical problems than she does, and they`re not out. How can anybody possibly justify her getting out for a rash?
I mean, I watched the entire sheriff`s department press conference today. It was on my show on Court TV. There was never a good answer. There was never a good answer on the preferential treatment argument. I don`t think there is one. And I think there should be an investigation as to what was going on behind closed doors, because this thing does not pass the smell test.
SMERCONISH: I think it depends where the rash was. But I`m out of time. I can`t -- I can`t pursue that.
BLOOM: I`m not going to go there, Michael.
SMERCONISH: Thank you both.
GIBSON: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: Coming up, the controversy continues regarding a museum showing man and dinosaur living side by side. Is faith trumping fact?
Plus, Al Gore claims he doesn`t want to be a candidate again, but you wouldn`t guess that, based on his growing support. Will he jump into the race? The details are next.
SMERCONISH: If you`re looking for a great vacation for the family this summer, you might want to forget about Disney World or Six Flags and try the brand spanking new Creation Museum in Kentucky. The museum, which opened its doors on May 28, has sparked all sorts of controversy.
Here now with his take is Ken Hamm, the founder and CEO of the Creation Museum.
Dr. Hamm, thanks for being here. My understanding is that you present the Old Testament view of history, so I`m wondering by way of example, dinosaurs. How do you deal with dinosaurs?
KEN HAMM, FOUNDER, CREATION MUSEUM: You know, the way we deal with dinosaurs, we say that Genesis 1 through 11 is a real history. And so we use that to help us interpret the fossil record that there was no death before the first man Adam sinned.
So you couldn`t have dinosaurs millions of years before Adam sinned. The dinosaurs were made on the same day as Adam and Eve, because people were made on the same day as land animals, and so you have the land animals and dinosaurs together.
SMERCONISH: So -- OK, so dinosaurs co-existed with man, with Adam and Eve?
HAMM: Yes, that`s not so amazing. Because I mean, there are lots of examples of what are living fossils today. Animals or plants, secular scientists thought they became extinct millions of years ago, and they lived with dinosaurs. But they`re living today with people. And so it`s not so amazing to think about that from that perspective.
SMERCONISH: You -- I`m glad you used the word fossils. I mean, so what about fossils themselves, because my understanding is that your presentation of history is that the earth is about 6,000 years old.
So how then, sir, do you account for a fossil which would suggest to scientists millions of years in age?
HAMM: Well, you know, fossils, when you dig them up, they didn`t have little labels attached to them or photographs or anything like that. To actually form a fossil is a catastrophic event. You have to cover something very quickly. And you find billions of dead things buried in rock ways, laid down by water (ph) all over the earth. And we say that`s consistent with the flood of Noah`s day.
From a Christian perspective, there was no death before Adam`s sin, so you can`t have fossils millions of years before Adam sinned. And Noah`s flood, about 4 1/2 thousand years ago, we would say, counts for most of the fossil record.
SMERCONISH: So you deal -- you deal with the flood literally? I`m thinking at home, I`ve got a Labrador and I`ve got two miniature dachshunds. So which species of dog would have come off of the ark?
HAMM: Well, you know, even secular scientists all agree that all dogs, for instance, belonged to one dog gene pool. In other words, dingoes, wolves, coyotes, jackals, foxes, even domestic dogs all share a gene pool.
And so we would say there were two dogs on Noah`s arc, and from those two dogs, you can get all the different species. But that`s not Darwinian evolution. That`s just a sorting out of the gene pool as they split up and moved to different places, be adapted to their environment because of their particular combination of genes that they have.
SMERCONISH: You know, I`m not giving you a workout. I`m just asking the questions that I think most folks at home are wondering.
Here`s my attitude. My attitude, I want to take my kids to your -- to your place. I also want to take them this summer to the Smithsonian, to the Natural History Museum, because my approach is, I want to teach them everything.
What I -- what I`m upset about is when we see like we`re giving shelter to the kids by hiding them from different theories that are out there.
HAMM: I totally agree with you, Michael. In fact, even for my own children, I want to make sure they knew about evolution. And we`ve been to the Smithsonian as well.
And I encourage people to do that. Come to the Creation Museum; get a different perspective. You know, there`s information being censored from the public. I believe that they all need to hear this and be challenged in their thinking. I was taught to be a teacher, to teach students critical thinking skills, so I think that`s a great idea.
SMERCONISH: Amen to that, and no pun intended. Thank you, Dr. Hamm. Appreciate...
HAMM: Thank you, Michael.
SMERCONISH: Appreciate you being here.
Al Gore may be the most popular candidate for the presidency, and he`s not even running -- yet. Will he jump into the race?
And Paris Hilton is reassigned to house arrest. Hilton checked out of an L.A. jail today and headed for home. The move has sparked outrage in some circles. The details are ahead.
SMERCONISH: I`m Michael Smerconish, sitting in for Glenn. Coming up, fallout from Paris Hilton`s early release from jail. She was moved for medical reasons, but it sure sounds like special treatment to me. I`ll have the latest details in just a moment.
But first, as much fun as it may be to watch the presidential debates and figure out who won, who lost, the real winners are the candidates who are not even present. While McCain, Romney, Giuliani and the other 439 GOP candidates see who can invoke the name of Ronald Reagan the most, argue over who the real conservative is, and act like President Bush is a quarantined TB patient, the real winner is the guy who`s not even running yet, Fred Thompson.
And likewise with the D`s, they`re arguing over who will end the war the fastest, who hates George Bush the most. The real winner is the guy who would immediately be the Democratic front-runner, if only he were formally running. And that`s Al Gore. Gore`s standard response to questions about his candidacy is, "I`m not planning to be a candidate again." And he acts annoyed that it`s all people want to ask him about. But if he really wanted the questions to end, he could simply rule himself out completely, but there`s a reason he`s not doing that. And GOP strategist Roger Stone has it all figured out.
Hey, Roger, not exactly Sherman-esque in the way that he denies that he`s running.
ROGER STONE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No, actually very Nixonian. These are very carefully parsed words. I think that he`s preserving his political options. "I`m not planning to run, I have no plans to run. It is highly unlikely that I would run." Nowhere does he say, "If nominated, I won`t run; if elected, I won`t serve." And I don`t think he`s going to say that.
SMERCONISH: And he gets a huge bump out of it, because he`s not on a stage getting beaten up. Instead, he`s out holding events that look like rock concerts, if you watch the footage on television.
STONE: Well, he`s a giant compared to the Democrats who are running for president. His popularity is at an all-time high. He has turned out to be right, as far as his party`s concerned, about the two major issues of the day, the war, where he`s been one of the most articulate critics of the war, and, of course, global warming, which is his signature issue that he was in the wilderness on. And now everyone thinks it`s true.
SMERCONISH: Does he pull from Hillary and Barack equally?
STONE: No, I actually don`t think so. I actually wonder whether there`s enough room in this race for both Vice President Gore and Barack Obama. In other words, Gore is the real anti-war candidate, right on the war from the beginning, and with the stature to end the war. Barack Obama would kind of suction off anti-war votes, and I`m not sure Gore can afford that.
But he can afford to watch and see how Barack Obama develops as a candidate. If it looks like he can`t take Hillary, there`s only one person alive who can beat her for the nomination, and that`s Al Gore.
SMERCONISH: You worked with Richard Nixon. And when you talk about the Nixon strategy, you`re, I mean, really ahead of your time in this regard, because you wrote a while ago for the "New York Observer" about the similarities between the two. And I think we`re going to put something up on the screen that will summarize it. It`s pretty darn clear the way, Roger Stone explains it. Let`s go through it.
Nixon served two terms in the House before moving to the Senate. Gore has done what?
STONE: Two terms in the House, and one in the Senate.
SMERCONISH: Richard Nixon, sitting vice president who loses a crushing election in 1960 by a razor-thin margin. We all know what happened to Gore in the year 2000.
STONE: And in both cases, there were charges of fraud and stealing.
SMERCONISH: And here`s something I did not recognize about Richard Nixon. I know Al Gore to be a champion of global warming, but R.N. had a record in that regard.
STONE: Well, he started the Environmental Protection Agency and was really a signature issue of conservation in the Nixon administration.
SMERCONISH: Al Gore has written "An Inconvenient Truth." In the case of R.N.?
STONE: He wrote "Six Crises." Both of those are cathartic exercises necessary to put the political past behind them.
SMERCONISH: Al Gore tells the Associated Press that, quote, "He has no plans to run for president." Richard Nixon`s words in 1966?
STONE: "I have no plans to run for president," as he told the Associated Press.
SMERCONISH: All right, here`s my favorite. Al Gore has gone on "SNL," "Saturday Night Live" to retool his message. And, as Roger Stone has pointed out, R.N. did what?
STONE: Goes on "Laugh-In," goes on Jack Parr to retool his message.
SMERCONISH: And the conclusion, by the way, at least relative to Gore is, he -- pardon me, to Nixon, is that he won the race.
STONE: The greatest political comeback in American history, perhaps surpassed only by Al Gore in 2008.
SMERCONISH: I don`t think that anybody could deny the similarities that you`ve just outlined. Here`s my question. Is Gore aware of this and deliberately following a strategy that he would be willing to ascribe to Richard Nixon?
STONE: Well, I suspect that he`s feeling his way, but he`s handled himself extremely well in his years out of office. He`s not in the paper every day, because he knows that he`s extremely well-known and, therefore, he can become the kind of tread worn very quickly. So he picks his shots. He usually speaks on a Friday. His speeches are thoughtful, and he puts a lot of work into them. He`s produced a book. He`s produced a movie. He`s now produced a second book, which is a manifesto for his campaign and the failures of the Bush administration. But he`s pacing himself. He`s pacing himself very well. He`s also making money, something Nixon was doing in the early 1960s.
SMERCONISH: You laid it all out at StoneZone.com. I know a lot of people are going to want to go through and...
STONE: Go check it out.
SMERCONISH: There you go. Hey, Roger, thank you for being here.
Next, I want to go back to the story about Paris Hilton being transferred from county jail to home confinement after just three days, because there are still quite a few legitimate questions that need to be answered in this regard. Everybody wants to know if Paris got any special treatment by being allowed to go home for medical reasons, but I`m wondering if the opposite is true. Would she have gone to prison at all if she wasn`t Paris Hilton?
Pam Bondi knows the answer. She`s a Florida state prosecutor. Hey, Pam, what about my thought that she was singled out because of her celebrity status and would not have been thrown in the slammer to begin with but for the fact she`s Paris Hilton?
PAM BONDI, PROSECUTOR: You know, Michael, I always thought she needed to go to jail, because she clearly violated the court`s orders. She didn`t enroll in the DUI school. She was driving on a suspended license. She knew her license was suspended. And, you know, DUI is a serious offense in our country now. I mean, she`s lucky nothing worse happened.
But I`ll tell you, Michael, whether or not you agree with what sentence she got, she should have served it. I mean, that`s what`s making a mockery of it.
SMERCONISH: What do you make of this? I`m looking at the release here. And, you know, the sheriff`s office says, after extensively consultation with Los Angeles County medical personnel, what`s the real deal? What do you think happened?
BONDI: Well, you know, Michael, if she had serious health issues prior to going into the jail, I`m sure those would have been discussed with the jail, and perhaps the judge would have reconsidered her sentence. We`ve done that when people have had serious, legitimate medical needs.
Now, if the jail couldn`t accommodate her health issues, then she should have been hospitalized. But the L.A. County jail, come on, they have a medical ward. They have a psychiatric ward. People go on hunger strikes all the time in jail and that doesn`t get them out of jail.
SMERCONISH: To the extent that there`s a culpable party, someone who`s deserving of blame for the fact that Paris Hilton only did three-plus days and now walks, who would that be? Would it be the sheriff`s office? I mean, it`s not going to be the judge because he`s the one who threw the book at her.
BONDI: Right. Right. Well, it would have to be the jail for making the decision to let her out. And, again, her medical history is going to be confidential, which it should, so we`re never going to know unless she reveals it, what her health issues were.
But, again, they have a great medical facility at the jail. It was nothing to warrant her being hospitalized. What`s the difference with her being home or being in jail with whatever minor issue she has?
SMERCONISH: My own two cents on this, I`ve never understood what it is she does for income. Maybe she doesn`t need income. I mean, what is her job? I have no idea. But...
BONDI: Well, maybe she`s a better actress than we thought, because if she could convince them that she had this health issue to get a release...
SMERCONISH: I did see that one movie that she was in, but I can`t imagine that`s paying the bills.
BONDI: I missed it.
SMERCONISH: OK. But my point is that -- what was my point? My point is that, to the extent that she`s out there thriving on celebrity alone, it`s going to be enhanced by all this.
BONDI: Oh, sure it is. I mean, the paparazzi has been surrounding her house now to see if she`s back out laying out by her pool. So, yes, this absolutely is only going to enhance her celebrity. Paris Hilton is the one who benefited. She broke the law. She got a jail sentence, and she didn`t have to serve it.
SMERCONISH: You would just think that, in all venues, L.A. County would recognize what a boondoggle this would become to let her out. And, indeed, you know, everybody`s feasting out there on their doorstep right now.
BONDI: Right. And, you know, as prosecutors, we really do try to treat everybody the same. She got a jail sentence, and she should have served it.
SMERCONISH: And you maintain that, in Florida, if it were some random woman, different demographic, and they had done what she had done, yes, they would have gone to jail to begin with?
BONDI: I do. I do. And here`s why. Again, she violated the court`s order. She was driving. She knew her license was suspended. She didn`t do anything the judge told her to do. She didn`t enroll in DUI school. I mean, you know, this young woman could have been out there making a difference.
SMERCONISH: Final question, what does house arrest -- what does that actually mean in a case like this?
BONDI: House arrest -- and I believe she`s going to be on a monitor - - it`s basically jail from your home, Michael. The only difference is, she can go to church, she can go to the grocery store.
SMERCONISH: I don`t think that`s happening.
BONDI: She can go to the grocery store, which she probably wouldn`t do, but now may do to get out of the house. You know, but you have all the amenities of your home. I`m sure she`ll have her housekeeper, she`ll have food cooked for her. She has her swimming pool. You can`t leave the confines of your yard...
SMERCONISH: I wonder if she can still wash the car?
BONDI: I bet she can, because if it`s in her front yard -- so, paparazzi I`m sure will be letting us know about that.
SMERCONISH: Thank you, Pam.
BONDI: Thank you, Michael.
SMERCONISH: Coming up, the unbelievable endings to two missing children cases that unfolded within just hours of one another. Don`t miss this. We`re back in just a moment.
SMERCONISH: Two families thousands of miles apart became forever linked yesterday by a cruel twist of fate. In Kansas, shock and tragedy as the family of 18-year-old Kelsey Smith was told by authorities that they`d found her body near a lake about 20 miles from where she was abducted. Police have arrested 26-year-old Edwin Hall for her murder and expect to charge him with premeditated first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping.
Now, within hours of that breaking news, a family in Connecticut experienced completely opposite emotions, as their 15-year-old girl, missing for almost a year, was found alive. Sources say that Danielle Cramer, who had been missing since last June 14, was found hidden in a three-foot-by-five-foot stairwell closet. Three people have been arrested so far, and authorities are now looking into the possibility that they may have abused other young girls, as well.
William Portanova is a former federal prosecutor. William, I notice in the Connecticut case so far no charge of kidnapping. What`s your thought on that?
WILLIAM PORTANOVA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, the only reason they would not file kidnapping charges would be if the girl went with him voluntarily, and that may or may not present a defense to kidnapping. I`m not sure it does. As a minor, if he knows that she`s supposed to be somewhere else, and she keeps her there and overcomes her will, however he did it, it`s still kidnapping.
SMERCONISH: Well, I guess this is what you`re addressing. Can a 15- year-old give consent?
PORTANOVA: Well, a 15-year-old can consent to some things, but they can`t consent to the type of relationship that I think we`re afraid was going on here.
SMERCONISH: You know what I would like to do is play for you a quick clip from one of the defense lawyers in this case, because they`re already pointing fingers in the other direction. Give a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL GEORGETTI, KIMBERLEY CRAY`S ATTORNEY: What you`re going to find is this is not a case of kidnapping. What you`re going to find is this is a case of individuals trying to protect a young girl from being sexually assaulted and physically assaulted.
JOURNALIST: By whom?
JOURNALIST: By whom?
GEORGETTI: By individuals that I`d rather not discuss at this point.
JOURNALIST: By her family?
GEORGETTI: I`d rather not discuss this at this point.
JOURNALIST: Someone in the house?
GEORGETTI: No, by individuals in the home where she originally resided.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: So it sounds like the defense in this case may be, "We weren`t the ones abusing her; they were."
PORTANOVA: Well, I can tell you, first of all, I`m not sure that`s going to work with anybody. And, secondly, if that were true, I think the appropriate plan would have been to notify the authorities, not to hide a 15-year-old girl under your staircase for a year.
SMERCONISH: Yes. Here`s another wacky aspect of this case, and I recognize that, you know, that which we don`t know outweighs that which we know at this early point. But apparently, the last telephone record that was known for this teenager was with one of the individuals that now is behind bars, which makes you wonder, what in the world took so long to make the apprehension?
PORTANOVA: Well, you really have to wonder about that, how they got onto them in the first place. I guess there was some kind of prior relationship that they were aware of that they`d been trying to piece together a case on from the beginning, I guess.
It takes a lot to piece together enough evidence to kick somebody`s door in with a search warrant. And you can have all the suspicion in the world, but if you don`t have specific facts justifying a belief that a given person is guilty and there`s evidence in that house, you don`t get to go in, even if you`re suspicious. So sometimes it takes a long time to put that together.
SMERCONISH: William, in the Kansas case, with the tragic death of this 18-year-old young woman, you know, unusual, we`re not talking about somebody who was 10, 12, 14, 18, gets abducted at a Target. What do you make of that?
PORTANOVA: This is one of the saddest stories I`ve seen. She was a beautiful girl. She was followed out by a predator, who destroyed her within an hour. And I`ll tell you one thing I do feel about it, though. I actually feel -- I have mixed feelings about the way he was caught.
SMERCONISH: How so?
PORTANOVA: I`m very happy they caught him. I`m very happy the electronic surveillance cameras were functioning enough that somebody was able to tip off the authorities as to who he was, and they grabbed him. And in so doing, they probably saved a lot of other lives, because this is not a one-time event. People don`t kill like this once. These are predators, and they need to be removed.
SMERCONISH: So I don`t understand. So what`s your disappointment, that they didn`t take him down?
PORTANOVA: It`s not a disappointment. It`s just a mild concern that the effectiveness of electronic surveillance is so clear that it`s just going to mushroom all over the country. And it`s just, as a constitutionalist, I`m a little concerned about having cameras everywhere...
SMERCONISH: Oh, OK.
PORTANOVA: ... but I can`t argue with their effectiveness. It really works.
SMERCONISH: I thought you were saying it`s a shame that law enforcement didn`t, you know, let him check out at the time they apprehended them. I was going to buy into that argument.
PORTANOVA: Well, that`s -- I have a strong feeling about that, too.
SMERCONISH: OK, on a different day maybe. Thank you, William.
PORTANOVA: You`re welcome.
SMERCONISH: We turn now to something more hopeful, a young woman from Lesotho, Africa, and her continuing struggle to help her country deal with the staggering human devastation caused by HIV-AIDS. She`s tonight`s "CNN Hero."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NTHABELENG LEPHOTO, HIV-AIDS ACTIVIST: Personally, I`ve had people very close to me dying of HIV-AIDS. This stupid virus is tearing lives apart.
My name is Nthabeleng Lephoto coming from Touching Tiny Lives. We support often vulnerable infants. Our safe house is for critically ill or in-need children. For us, babies come first. We have to give them medication, even if sometimes they have to cry.
But it`s not just the medication. They start feeling loved. Eighty percent of the children we help are in the rural areas. We go to each individual household. We give them nutrition, like foodstuff packages and medication. We want to discuss their own problems where they feel free.
It`s HIV-AIDS leaving the children with grandmothers. They shouldn`t be doing this, but they have to. I need to support these people. It`s going to go on and on. Believe me, there are times when I really say, "This is too much." But to see them smile, starting to enjoy life as it comes, makes me want to help more and more and more and more. If there`s no Touching Tiny Lives, honestly, all these children that we have helped would have died.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Before we close, I want to tell you about a family that I know from my hometown of Philadelphia, a husband and wife named Thomas and Mary Faulkner. They raised seven children. They were a religious family, united not only by their Catholic faith, but also by the hard-scrapple lives that they led. Of seven children, only one became famous, and not in a way that any parent or sibling would ever desire. No, the eminent one was Danny Faulkner, a Philadelphia police officer, and his fame came only upon his murder December 9, 1981.
Mumia Abu Jamal was tried and convicted for that murder one year later. And since then, it`s become arguably the highest-profile death penalty case in the nation. In the last 25 years, many Faulkner family members have passed without closure, and that`s due to a delay initiated by death penalty opponents. Danny`s mother, she attended trial every day in the early `80s. She passed on soon thereafter. All Danny`s siblings were alive at the time that he was killed, and today only two are still with us.
Meanwhile, the man who heaped tragedy upon this family is still alive, albeit behind bars. Abu Jamal today is 53 years old. His attorneys were back in federal court recently for yet another round in his endless cycle of appeals. His long entanglement in the courts, it`s an embarrassment to our judicial system, but not because an innocent man sits on death row. No, this saga is testament to a system easily manipulated for interminable delay. Consider that, since the death penalty was reinstated in Pennsylvania in 1978, only three have been put to death, and each of them asked for it.
I no longer fault Abu Jamal`s attorneys for the wait; I lay blame with those who give lip service to the death penalty but don`t act to enforce it, by streamlining the appellate process, you know, legislators who talk a good game during election season and then lose sight of what a quarter- century of uncertainty does to crime victims, people like the family of Danny Faulkner.
I recently spoke to his widow, Maureen, and she told me, quote, "This process is obscene in the way that it taints survivors` lives for so long. You can never move on. There`s never any closure, just endless rounds of hearings and motions made by new batches of crusading attorneys." This case has now even tainted the lives of Danny`s nieces and nephews who were just little children when Jamal murdered Danny. And now some of them will be standing in the courtroom in place of their uncles who have lived their lives and have passed on.
And Jamal, he`s still alive on death row, writing books, mugging for the camera, giving commencement addresses. It`s all so wrong. Twenty-five years and counting, indeed, it`s an outrage.
I`m Michael Smerconish in New York. Good night.