"Nicky tried to keep the brave face," Kathy Hilton tells PEOPLE. "I never see Nicky cry"

By Mark Dagostino and Mike Fleeman
Updated June 14, 2007 06:00 PM

Kathy Hilton and daughter Nicky are still reeling from their visits to Paris in jail, they tell PEOPLE.

“It’s tough. It is,” said Kathy, who saw her daughter on Tuesday. “It’s just one hour a week: 30 minutes on Sunday and 30 minutes on Tuesday. We talk through glass.”

“And this one” – gesturing to Nicky – “left in hysterics,” Kathy added. “Nicky tried to keep the brave face but – I never see Nicky cry.”

Nicky and her mother spoke to PEOPLE on Thursday after attending family friend Barbara Walters’s ceremony to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Interviewed at a private luncheon, Nicky described her visit to the jail on Sunday as surreal.

“It’s sad. It’s like right out of the movies,” she said. “The glass partition, the orange jumpsuit. Everything.”

Nicky spoke of what she saw as the unfairness in Paris’s case.

“What’s annoying is all these people are going on television saying that she was drinking and driving,” said Nicky. “She’s not in jail for DUI. That’s a big misconception. She’s in jail for driving on a suspended license, just like the (City Attorney’s) wife was. … She got a $186 fine.”

(On the day he sought more jail time for Paris Hilton, Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo acknowledged his wife got a traffic ticket two years ago while driving with a suspended license. She received the ticket – and the $186 fine – for failing to obey a turn-only sign, but wasn’t ticketed for driving with the suspended license).

Kathy Hilton reiterated Paris’s statement that she will not fight her sentence, which could end as early as June 25.

“There are no appeals – as Paris said. But the point is that I hope this will shine a light on everybody (in those jails). That’s the positive,” said Kathy. The jails, she said, “need financial help, and it’s very sad to see what’s going on in there.”

Kathy adds: “I always believe that where there’s a negative there’s a positive. And I feel that maybe this whole ordeal can shed light on other people, and that really maybe everybody should be treated exactly the same. I don’t care who you are. As Paris said, she’s just going to do her time and try to make the best of it, and hopefully” – she paused, chocking back emotion – “I always believe there’s a reason for everything.”