Teresa Jones, a 50-year-old who was released from Lynwood yesterday, told reporters that the facility is filthy and that prisoners are given pamphlets about infections upon arrival.
"That place is hell, it's awful," Ms. Jones told Associated Press. "Life is easy compared to this."
Belinda Meraz, a 30-year-old released yesterday after a two-week sentence, said that guards constantly scream at inmates and that Ms. Hilton may not be popular among inmates. "There are too many haters in there," she said.
There are 482 women serving sentences in Canadian institutions, with 507 more on conditional release in the community. And while the numbers are relatively low, the problems faced by female inmates can be profound.
According to the Elizabeth Fry Society, which advocates on behalf of women in the justice system, two-thirds of federally sentenced women are mothers and must deal with the anxieties of being away from their kids.
Eighty-two per cent of all sentenced women have been physically or sexually abused, and female inmates are more likely than men to engage in self-harm in prison.
"If the place Paris Hilton's going [to] is anything like the remand centre in Calgary, she won't want to be there," said Elena Schacherl, executive director of the Calgary chapter of the Elizabeth Fry Society.
Ms. Schacherl said the facilities she has personally visited are small and crowded, and require women to be locked up 22 hours a day. Many of the inmates are dealing with addictions and mental-health issues, and are isolated from their families because the institutions that house them don't have enough phones and are often far away from the inmates' hometowns.
"There's overcrowding and understaffing and, as a result, women fall through the cracks," she said. "Women get lost in prison."
Crowding will not be an issue for Ms. Hilton, who will live in isolation from the other inmates, but she must live by the same rules as they do. She was reportedly given a standard-issue kit of toiletries upon arrival and required to remove her hair extensions.
She will eat her meals in her cell and can have only three books or magazines each week.
Mr. Watson said that while violence remains a reality within prison, inmates' main struggle is with isolation and powerlessness, rather than becoming "someone's bitch."
"It is the experience of despair and distress at being placed in that relationship with authority and having your movements controlled and restricted," he said. "It's more to do with being in prison than the violence that occurs. For many women, that's a very intimidating experience."