"She was not released, she was reassigned," Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept. spokesperson Steve Whitmore said at a press conference Thursday.
In a statement released to TMZ.com by Hilton's lawyer, the heiress said Thursday: "I want to thank the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and staff of the Century Regional Detention Center for treating me fairly and professionally.
"I am going to serve the remaining 40 days of my sentence. I have learned a great deal from this ordeal and hope that others have learned from my mistakes."
At the press conference, Whitmore provided few other details about Hilton's medical condition, citing privacy laws, and declined to say whether it was physical or psychological, or whether it related in any way to reports that Hilton had been miserable behind bars.
Whitmore also did not know whether the condition was pre-existing, but said the decision to reassign Hilton was made after "extensive consultation" with medical personnel.
He did say that she did not have a staph infection, responding to reports that the facility had experienced a staph outbreak.
Hilton was transferred shortly after midnight on Thursday, Whitmore said. "She was transported out of here by us, there was a transference to her attorney, and then she was taken home." Asked how her spirits were, he replied: "She was ... focused, let's put it that way."
As a result of the reassignment to her home, Whitmore said, Hilton's original 45-day sentence has been reinstated. In essence, this "nearly doubles her sentence" in terms of days, he pointed out, as she had been expected to serve 23 days behind bars with good behavior.
If she violates the terms of the reassignment, he added, "she will be remanded immediately to the court. ... The judge made it clear that that would be an automatic bump-up to 90 days."
Hilton has been credited with five days of time served and will spend the remaining 40 days confined to her home wearing an ankle bracelet with a range of 3,000-4,000 square feet.
Asked whether she would be confined completely, Whitmore said: "There's some fudge with that. If someone goes and gets their mail, if they're 30 minutes outside, that's okay. It's a complicated electronic situation."
Whitmore said that leeway would not extend to parties or events. "Here's my understanding: She's confined to her home with an ankle bracelet. She cannot leave that facility," he said.
Hilton will remain at her Hollywood Hills mansion, which includes a swimming pool, a large kitchen with a marble island, two living rooms – one of which has a stripper pole installed – and portraits of the heiress on the wall.
Whitmore said the sheriff's department is not concerned with appearing to be soft on the celebrity inmate. "It doesn't matter how we look, really," he said. "We just hopefully do our job and do it professionally, with a sense of humanity."
TMZ.com reported Thursday morning that Hilton had been released early Thursday.
Hilton, 26, began her sentence Sunday night at the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood, south of Los Angeles.
She was sentenced to 45 days in jail for violating her probation by driving with a suspended license. Amid speculation that she would actually serve much less time due to prison overcrowding, police said she would spend at least 23 days behind bars.
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