Felicity Huffman, the actress, has been accused of benefiting from “white privilege” after getting a two-week jail sentence over paying to inflate her daughter’s exam results.
US congressman Hakeem Jeffries, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, and Martina Navratilova, the retired tennis player, were among those who took to Twitter to suggest she got off lightly.
There was also criticism of the minimum-security prison she will be incarcerated in, which reportedly has the nickname “Club Fed” because of its cushy conditions.
Huffman, best known for her starring role in the TV series ‘Desperate Housewives’ and marriage to the actor William H Macy, was one of the most famous names caught up in the college admissions scandal.
Prosecutors alleged that parents, often rich and white, broke the law by paying someone to ensure their children got into top colleges, sometimes by phoney sports scholarships. Many cases are still going through the courts.
Huffman admitted conspiracy to commit fraud and expressed regret at paying $15,000 (Dh55,050) to inflate her daughter’s SAT test score, saying it was to her “eternal shame” that she did not pull out of the scheme.
She was sentenced to 14 days in prison, as well as a $30,000 fine, supervised release for a year and 250 hours of community service.
Like many, Jeffries and Navratilova questioned the sentence by comparing it to Crystal Mason, an African-American woman given a five-year sentence for voting while on supervised release from prison.
Navratilova tweeted: “Is there anyone that can still argue there is no such thing as white privilege?!?”
Mason, who is fighting her conviction, said in a statement: “I don’t wish this for anyone, but 14 days for actual serious fraud just shows how unfair my sentence is.”
Huffman will spend her two weeks in jail at Federal Correctional Institution Dublin in California, one of four low-security prisons with an all-female population. Inmates are reportedly allowed up to $320 a month to spend at the prison commissary, which offers ice cream, instant coffee and cookies.