Paris Hilton has issued a mercy plea to Arnold Schwarzenegger in a last-minute attempt to keep herself out of jail.

The 26-year-old socialite was given a 45-day prison sentence last week for flouting a driving ban that had been imposed for alcohol-related offences.

But the hotel heiress has sent a two-page letter to Terminator star Arnie – now the governor of California and one of the most powerful men in American politics – begging to be given an alternative to jail, where she fears she may be targetted by other inmates.

“Paris is petrified and that’s putting it mildly,” a source told the News of the World. “She is not a normal citizen and fears very strongly that she”ll be attacked by someone wanting to make a name for themselves.”

If the sentence goes ahead, Paris will begin her stay at the Century Regional Detention Facility on June 5.