US heiress Paris Hilton has described as "traumatic" the time she spent in a Los Angeles prison for violating probation on a driving ban.
Appearing on CNN's Larry King talk show she said: "It was a very traumatic experience but I feel like God does make everything happen for a reason."
She said she was going to party less and be a "more responsible role model".
The 26-year-old was released from jail on Tuesday after serving 23 days of a 45-day sentence.
In her first televised interview since her release, Paris Hilton said she wanted people to know what she had gone through and insisted she should not have been jailed in the first place.
She said she had panic attacks and nightmares that someone would break into her cell and do harm to her, and that her small cell had exacerbated her claustrophobia.
"I think the crime did not fit the punishment. I don't feel like I deserved to go to jail," she said, during the hour-long show.
Hilton said she hated prison but it had been "a blessing in disguise", and had given her an opportunity to re-evaluate her life.
"I just felt this is like a new beginning for me, just sitting in jail I just used it as a journey to figure out myself and who I am and what I want to do.
"There's just so much more to me than what people think."
She said she was encouraged by letters she had received from fans, including some from US soldiers serving in Iraq.
"I've definitely matured and grown a lot from this experience... I've gotten a lot of letters from mothers, and their daughters look up to me, and I want to be a good role model for these girls."
Paris Hilton smiled and waved at photographers as she left jail
In the future, Paris Hilton said she wanted to set up a half-way house to help women when they are released from jail.
Hilton, sentenced to 45 days on 3 June, was released early from the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood, California, due to crowded jail conditions and time off for good behaviour.
She was briefly freed on medical grounds earlier this month but was sent back to jail by a court.
Veteran interviewer Larry King later described Hilton's performance as "puzzling and perplexing", and said she was in denial about her crime.