A federal judge sentenced the Desperate Housewives actress Friday, and ordered her to pay a fine of $30,000 as well as perform 250 hours of community service.
The two-week sentence caused a stir on social media, making Huffman a trending topic throughout the day. While some said the Emmy-winning star didn’t deserve to go to prison, many others insisted she should have been given more jail time.
Critics cited examples of low-income individuals and people of color receiving years in jail for such minor offenses as stealing a loaf of bread. Others mentioned Connecticut mom Tanya McDowell, who in 2012 was sentenced to five years in prison for enrolling her son in a school district where he didn’t live. According to the Connecticut Post, McDowell told the court she was seeking a “better education” for the little boy.
Huffman offered a similar explanation for paying a fixer $15,000 to have someone correct her oldest daughter’s answers on an SAT exam.
Social media users pointed out the disparities between the sentences, with some saying Huffman’s 14-day sentence is a result of celebrity privilege and or white privilege.
Legend addressed the issue in a series of tweets. Without saying Huffman’s name, the Grammy-winning singer/songwriter suggested Americans have become “desensitized” to the U.S. prison system.
“I get why everyone gets mad when rich person X gets a short sentence and poor person of color Y gets a long one,” he began. “The answer isn’t for X to get more; it’s for both of them to get less (or even none!!!) We should level down not up.”
“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,” he continued.
Legend then mentioned some of the cases people cited as examples of inequities in sentencing.
“It’s insane we locked a woman up for 5 years for sending her kid to the wrong school district. Literally everyone involved in that decision should be ashamed of themselves,” he tweeted.
The musician went on to argue that nothing is gained by locking up Huffman for 14 days, writing: “No one in our nation will benefit from the 14 days an actress will serve for cheating in college admissions.”
And no one in our nation will benefit from the 14 days an actress will serve for cheating in college admissions. We don’t need to lock people up for any of this stuff.
— John Legend (@johnlegend) September 14, 2019