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John Legend Sticks Up for Felicity Huffman, Suggests Zero Jail Time Should’ve Been the Answer

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John Legend, as you’re probably aware of, isn’t a social conservative. The R&B artist has been a frequent critic of both the Trump administration and the right in general. However, he broke with liberals on one main talking point after Felicity Huffman’s 14-day prison sentence last week.

Huffman was sentenced for her part in the college admissions scandal. According to Fox News, she pleaded guilty to two counts, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. The 56-year-old actress paid an admissions consultant $15,000 in order to have her daughter’s SAT answers corrected.

Prosecutors had suggested a month in jail plus $20,000 in fines and supervised release for a year. The judge gave her 14 days plus a $30,000 fine and 250 hours of community service.

“I think this is the right sentence here,” U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani said. “You can move forward and rebuild your life after this. Without this sentence, I think the community around you would ask why you got away with this.”

However, in spite of what the prosecutors had recommended and the fact that she was a first-time offender, many on Twitter said the white actress got off easy.

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Her sentence was compared with that of Tanya McDowell, a black mother who was jailed for five years after enrolling her children in the wrong school district.

Of course, they didn’t mention McDowell went to jail for being a drug dealer.

In 2012, the Connecticut Post reported that McDowell’s was “a highly charged case that put a spotlight on the city’s beleaguered school system and cries for changes in state legislation that makes it illegal for parents to send their children to schools in towns where they are not residents.

“But support for McDowell dropped off after she was arrested by Bridgeport police in June and charged with selling marijuana and crack cocaine on two occasions to an undercover police officer outside her Dover Street home. Police said McDowell even interrupted her 6-year-old son’s birthday to sell the drugs.”

Yes, one would think that might erode support for her.

Legend, without mentioning Huffman or McDowell, didn’t think this kind of logic held up to scrutiny.

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“I get why everyone gets mad when rich person X gets a short sentence and poor person of color Y gets a long one,” Legend tweeted Saturday.

“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,” he continued. “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.”

“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,” Legend said, apparently unaware the five years had to do with drug dealing.

“It’s unconscionable that we locked a woman up for voting when, unbeknownst to her, she was ineligible. Her sentence shouldn’t be fewer years. It should be ZERO,” Legend continued.

“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,” he concluded.

Say what you will about Legend and his spats with President Donald Trump (he recently called him “an evil f—ing canker sore on America’s whole landscape”), but he’s not wrong about this. Criminal justice reform has become a bipartisan issue, and while there are certainly excesses to going in the opposite direction, a 14-day sentence for this crime isn’t one of them.

Do you agree with John Legend?

Yes, I know, the rich and powerful shouldn’t be able to get away with crimes just because they’re rich and powerful. Huffman certainly didn’t. Her sentencing was in line with what one would expect for a first-time offender.

In fact, jail might not have even been the answer.

In this case, Legend’s right: We shouldn’t compare these cases simply because one individual is rich and white and the other is poor and black, nor should we put someone in jail longer than we need to simply because they’re rich and white.

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