September 20, 2005 08:45 AM

Lil’ Kim began her 366-day prison sentence late Monday afternoon by being whisked into a Philadelphia federal detention center past a throng of media, fans and passersby.

Earlier, the 30-year-old rapper issued a statement saying she had “unfortunately” been assigned to the concrete, high-rise facility instead of a prison camp “as discussed.” She added: “I am not certain that this constitutes fair and equal treatment.”

Reports say that among the facilities Kim (real name: Kimberly Jones) had requested was Alderson, the West Virginia “Camp Cupcake” where Martha Stewart had served her 5-month sentence for perjury. Kim was basically convicted of the same charge, for having lied to a grand jury about a 2001 shootout outside a New York City radio station.

Kim’s lawyer, L. Londell McMillan, said a celebrity like his client – who stands 4’11” – could be in danger in the detention center, the Associated Press reports.

“Why should a female hip-hop artist have to spend time in an urban concrete jungle while other female prisoners are assigned to rural, suburban-type prison camps?” said McMillan, adding that he would seek to have his client reassigned.

Calls to the federal Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Marshals Service were not returned.

Still, Kim “was upbeat, smiling,” said McMillan. “She told her mom not to cry and to stay strong.”

Lil’ Kim will be assigned to a female work cadre at the coed prison, according to her attorney, who noted that with good behavior she could be out in nine months.

“Today begins a new saga in my life which I expect to strengthen me and allow me time for reflection,” Lil’ Kim said in her statement. “I plan to write music while in prison, read and pray regularly and will come out a stronger, more confident woman.”

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