John Legend Reacts to Felicity Huffman's 14-Day Sentence: 'Prisons and Jails Are Not the Answer'
Felicity Huffman was sentenced on Friday for her role in the college admissions scandal
On Friday, the actress, 56, was sentenced to 14 days behind bars. In addition to the two weeks of incarceration, the judge fined her $30,000 and said she would be on supervised release for one year. Huffman will also have to complete 250 hours of community service.
Legend, 40, reacted to the sentence in a series of tweets on Saturday. The musician appeared to address the backlash from those who believe Huffman’s sentence should have been stricter, citing harsher punishments given to people of color, including Tanya McDowell, who was sentenced to five years in prison for charges connected to sending her child to the wrong school district, according to the Connecticut Post.
“I get why everyone gets mad when rich person X gets a short sentence and poor person of color Y gets a long one,” the singer wrote. “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,” the father of two wrote.
In 2011, McDowell, a homeless mom from Bridgeport, Connecticut, was arrested and charged with first-degree larceny for enrolling her then 5-year-old son in a school in Norwalk, a neighboring school district. “Literally everyone involved in that decision should be ashamed of themselves,” Legend said.
“It’s unconscionable that we locked a woman up for voting when, unbeknownst to her, she was ineligible,” Legend continued, referring to Crystal Mason, who was sentenced to five years in prison for voting in the 2016 election even though she says she was unaware that she was ineligible to vote, according to the Huffington Post. “Her sentence shouldn’t be fewer years. It should be ZERO.”
The Voice star concluded, “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.”
Legend has long been a supporter of criminal justice reform and ending mass incarceration. In 2014, he launched his organization FREEAMERICA to “transform America’s criminal justice system,” the organization’s website explains.
“When 70 million individuals across the country have a criminal record, mass incarceration can only be categorized as an epidemic due to decades of misguided policies and practices,” the website says.
The musician has written op-eds about criminal justice reform in the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post, and was also recently featured in an MSNBC town hall about criminal justice with NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt, which gained more attention after it drew the ire of President Donald Trump.
“The sentence Felicity received today is not about a victory or a defeat,” the source said. “She is not disappointed or relieved about the outcome. She is contrite and humbled and accepts the outcome.”
The source added, “Felicity knows she has a lot of work ahead of her to heal her family and win back the trust of the public, her colleagues and friends. She hopes the public will give her a second chance.”