Hollywood actress Felicity Huffman walked away with a slap on the wrist after being prosecuted and sentenced for her role in a multi-million-dollar college admissions scandal — the biggest ever prosecuted.
Huffman, 56, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud after shelling out $15,000 to have her daughter’s SAT score boosted, was sentenced on Friday to a mere 14 days in prison for her crime. The strikingly light sentence was met with fierce backlash from critics, who compared Huffman’s case to those of African-American women who were given several years in prison for trying to afford their children a better education.
For many, the leniency granted to the “Desperate Housewives” actress underscored just how unfair the justice system can be for people of color. Here are six public figures’ reactions to Huffman’s two-week sentence.
1.Wendy Williams: The popular daytime talk show host weighed in on the controversy Monday during the season premiere of “The Wendy Williams Show,” where she argued that Huffman had gotten off easy because of her race and status.
“If she was black, it’d be 14 years,” Williams said. “Do I think she’ll ever work again? Yeah. Because first of all, she copped to it. Second of all, she’s one half of a power couple in Hollywood. And she’s a nice woman. She just did something that I think a lot of mothers would do if you had the means.”
2. Crystal Mason: The Texas woman, who was ordered to serve five years in state prison for voting illegally after casting a provisional ballot in the 2016 presidential election while on parole for a prior felony conviction, also decried the actress’ lenient sentence. Mason, who said she didn’t know that her voting privileges had been revoked, was later handed an additional 10 months in federal prison for violating the terms of her release.
“I don’t wish this for anyone, but a sentence to 14 days for actual serious fraud just shows how unfair my sentence is,” said Mason, who is in the process of appealing her five-year sentence. I am hopeful the Justices will see that under the law, I shouldn’t have been convicted in the first place.”
3. Award-winning musician John Legend offered a different take on the issue.
Americans have become desensitized to how much we lock people up. Prisons and jails are not the answer to every bad thing everyone does, but we've come to use them to address nearly every societal ill.
— John Legend (@johnlegend) September 14, 2019
4. Herman Cain: In response to Legend’s anti-incarceration argument, the Tea Party activist wrote: “When there are swift and sure consequences for breaking the law, everyone benefits, because it removes from the would-be lawbreakers the idea that they can commit their acts with impunity. It gives bad actors a reason to exercise restraint.”
“You can argue about whether Felicity Huffman got a fair sentence,” Cain continued. “But if she’s going to jail, it’s her own fault. And if John Legend doesn’t want her there, he should talk to her about how to avoid it in the future.”
4. Greg Mathis: Like many others, the TV judge used the Huffman case to highlight that of Connecticut woman Tanya McDowell, who got a five-year jail sentence after using a family member’s address to enroll her child in a school out of district.
5. Political pundit Ana Navarro-Cardenas also mentioned the case of Alabama man Alvin Kennard, who got 36 years in prison for stealing $50 from a local bakery in 1984.
6. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries: In a Twitter post, Jeffries (D-N.Y.) wrote: “14 days? Crystal Mason (a black woman) mistakenly voted in 2016 presidential election after being released from prison. She was sentenced to FIVE YEARS in a Texas prison. #NewJimCrow”