By Jessica Sager
Published September 15, 2019
"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. 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," Legend added.
"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," the Grammy winner continued. "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 was referring to the case of Kelley Williams-Bolar, a single, black mother in Ohio who was convicted in 2011 of using a family member’s address to get her kids into better public schools. She was handed two concurrent five-year sentences, which were suspended to 10 days.
On Friday, Huffman, 56, was sentenced to 14 days in prison after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud in May. She confessed to paying an admissions consultant $15,000 to have a proctor correct her older daughter's answers on the SAT. She considered the same for her younger daughter but decided against it.
She must also perform 250 hours of community service and pay a $30,000 fine.
At the time of Huffman's sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani told the Emmy winner, "I think this is the right sentence here. 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."
Before Friday's sentencing, federal prosecutors had recommended a month of prison time, a $20,000 fine and 12 months of supervised release for the felony.
"She told you this crime resulted from the bewilderment of being a mom," Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen told Judge Talwani. "With all due respect, welcome to parenthood. It's terrifying and stressful. What parenthood does not do, it does not make you a felon. It doesn't make you a cheat."
"This was a purposeful criminal act. The defendant knew it was wrong," he added. "She even noted an increase [in payment] could trigger an investigation. She mulled it over. She participated in the scheme. She lied to move the test. She called the College Board to make sure the test had been shipped. Happy with the results, she paid Singer $15,000 and considered doing it again. She sent the scores to colleges nationwide. But for her arrest, she would have succeeded."
"This was not a blunder or mistake. This was intentional, " the prosecutor continued. "She showed contempt for the law and should be punished for her actions. Similarly situated defendants should also go to prison for their crime."
Huffman was the first of the 51 defendants charged in the sting, dubbed "Operation Varsity Blues" to be sentenced. The actress had previously pleaded for leniency, with her attorneys recommending a fine and probation as appropriate punishment.
In a three-page letter to Judge Talwani filed last week, Huffman wrote she has “a deep and abiding shame” for participating in the scam, saying she was trying to give her daughter, whom she says has a diagnosed learning disability and struggles with math, an opportunity to become an actress.
“In my desperation to be a good mother, I talked myself into believing that all I was doing was giving my daughter a fair shot,” Huffman wrote. “I see the irony in that statement now because what I have done is the opposite of fair. I have broken the law, deceived the educational community, betrayed my daughter, and failed my family."
Huffman's attorney reportedly requested that the "Desperate Housewives" star spend her sentence at Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, Calif., a minimum-security prison housing 1,235 inmates.
The inmates get to watch movies on weekdays at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m, play board games and partake in fitness activities.
Forbes magazine called FCI Dublin one of the “10 cushiest prisons” in America because of its location and weather.
Fox News' Mariah Haas and Jessica Napoli contributed to this report.