- Many people thought Felicity Huffman was handed a light sentence after she was given just 14 days in prison for her role in the college admissions scandal.
- This prompted many to bring up cases where women of color were sentenced to more jail time for similar or arguably smaller crimes, like lying about their address to get their children into a better school district.
- John Legend responded by saying that both Huffman and the women in the other cases should receive no jail time for what they did. He believes that prison is not the answer for every crime, but said the criminal justice system still turns to it too frequently.
Reactions to Huffman’s Sentence
Musician John Legend responded to criticisms of Felicity Huffman’s sentencing for her role in the sweeping college admissions scandal, arguing that “no one in our nation will benefit” from her serving prison time.
On Friday, Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in prison along with one year supervised release, 250 hours community service, and a fine of $30,000. Huffman paid $15,000 to have her daughter’s SAT score boosted and pled guilty to guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
Many thought that just 14 days behind bars was lenient and compared Huffman’s case to those of black women who were given more time for crimes they considered similar or even less severe.
One case many turned to was that of Tanya McDowell, a Connecticut woman who was sentenced to five years in prison for lying about her address to get her son into a better school district. At the time, she was homeless and living out of her van, shelters, and an apartment she only had access to at night.
Others pointed to a similar case with Kelley Williams-Bolar in Ohio. She used her father’s address to get her children into a better school district and was handed two concurrent five-year sentences that she was later able to reduce to 10 days. Williams-Bolar’s case was cited in Huffman’s sentencing. Prosecutors argued that if someone in her situation served time, there’s no reason that Huffman, who comes from a more privileged background, should not do the same.
Critics of Huffman’s sentence argued that there were similarities between what Huffman did and what these two mothers did, as they all had the goal of getting their child a better education.
Another case people compared it to was that of Crystal Mason. Mason was handed a five-year sentence after unknowingly voting illegally. She tried to fill out a provisional ballot in 2016, and at the time she was on supervised release for a federal felony. Mason was unaware that she could not vote until her release was over and was convicted of illegal voting.
She is currently repealing her sentence and gave a statement to the Huffington Post regarding Huffman’s time.
“I don’t wish this for anyone, but a sentence to 14 days for actual serious fraud just shows how unfair my sentence is,” she told them. “I’m hopeful the Justices will see that under the law, I shouldn’t have been convicted in the first place.”
John Legend Responds
Musician and criminal justice reform advocate John Legend responded to these varied reactions without ever mentioning Huffman’s name. Instead of arguing that Huffman’s sentence was too light, he said people like her and the others mentioned should serve no time at all.
He mentioned cases like McDowell and Mason and called them “insane” and “unconscionable.”
“We don’t need to lock people up for any of this stuff,” Legend concluded in his thread.
On Sunday, he furthered his argument by suggesting that there are other ways people can be held accountable for their actions.
Legend was not alone in believing prison time was not the answer. The executive director of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, David Singleton, who represented Williams-Bolar told the New York Times that putting the actress behind bars is not productive.
“When you are rich — and particularly if you’re rich and white in this country — there’s a different justice system,” he said. “Sending Felicity Huffman to jail is not going to solve that problem.”
Twitter users began to share what they found to be more productive ways for people like Huffman to right their wrongs. Some suggested she pay for the tuitions of McDowell’s children or contribute to scholarships.
See what others are saying: (Huffington Post) (USA Today) (The Atlantic)
Lil Nas X Starts Bail Project Fund After Releasing Prison-Set Video for “Industry Baby”
The singer said he is working to address “the disproportionate impact that cash bail has on the black community.“
Lil Nas X Starts Bail X Fund
Following the release of his latest single “Industry Baby,” Lil Nas X launched a partnership with The Bail Project that aims to cover bail funds for people across the country.
The music video for the song took place in the fictional “Montero State Prison,” a reference to the title of his upcoming album and the singer’s real name. While Lil Nas X spent much of his time online promoting the video with memes, he put a pause on the jokes Saturday to announce the Bail X Fund and bring attention to issues regarding incarceration in the United States.
“On a serious note, I know the pain that incarceration brings to a family,” Lil Nas X tweeted. “And the disproportionate impact that cash bail has on the black community. That’s why I teamed up with @bailproject to create the Bail X Fund.”
The Bail Project aims to eliminate cash bail in the U.S. It has posted over $47 million in free bail for over 17,000 low-income people across the country. It also provides post-release support and services to those who need them.
“Music is the way I fight for liberation. It’s my act of resistance,” Lil Nas X wrote in a statement on the fund’s website. “But I also know that true freedom requires real change in how the criminal justice system works. Starting with cash bail.”
The Fight to End Cash Bail
According to the Prison Policy Initiative, like many issues within the criminal justice system, cash bail disproportionately harms Black Americans. The group claims that Black and brown defendants are somewhere between 10% to 25% “more likely than white defendants to be detained pretrial or to have to pay money bail.” It also argues that Black men are 50% more likely to be detained pretrial than white defendants, and says Black and brown defendants generally “receive bail amounts that are twice as high as bail set for white defendants – and they are less likely to be able to afford it.”
Lil Nas X said he is “doing something” to address these issues and invited his fans to join him. He hopes that his efforts will encourage other artists to use their platforms to likewise speak about these injustices.
“Ending cash bail is one of the most important civil rights issues of our time,” he wrote. “Donate what you can to the Bail X Fund. Let’s bring people home & let’s fight for freedom and equality.”
A donation tab was attached to the song’s music video, where it says nearly $44,000 has been raised for the Bail X Fund. The video has blown up on YouTube, racking up over 31 million views. It remains the number one trending video in music as of Monday morning.
The song has likewise found success on Spotify, where it debuted at number two and eventually reached the number one spot.
Fire at Home Reportedly Owned by Beyoncé and Jay-Z Under Arson Investigation
Officials said there were no injuries or evacuations during the fire, which was put out in around two hours.
Fire Breaks Out at Famed Couple’s Reported Residence
A Wednesday fire at a historic home in New Orleans, Louisiana believed to be owned by music titans Beyoncé and Jay-Z is being investigated as a possible arson.
On Thursday, a New Orleans Police Department spokesperson confirmed to multiple outlets that it had received a tip about a suspicious person in the area. Further details about the suspicious person and the cause of the fire have not been revealed.
Neighbors told local media that there is an unlocked gate on the property that outsiders sometimes use to gain entry.
Officials told The New York Post that it took 22 firefighters over two hours to extinguish the blaze, with no reported injuries or evacuations. The extent of the damage currently remains unclear, but a spokesperson told The Post that given the age of the residence, the situation could have been far more severe.
“If [the firefighters] didn’t get there when they did, it could have been much worse,” the spokesperson said. “It’s a historic home.”
About the Home
The building was first built in the Garden District neighborhood of the city in the 1920s as a church. It was later used as a ballet school and then became a high-end residence in 2000. Realtor.com says it is currently valued at $3 million.
The home was purchased in 2015 by Sugarcane Parkin LLC. According to The Washington Post, this company has the same registered address as other entities owned by Beyoncé. Sugarcane Parkin is also allegedly managed by Beyoncé’s mother, Celestine Lawson, better known as Tina Knowles.
Representatives for the “Lemonade” singer and her husband have not issued any public statements about the incident, nor have they confirmed that the home is owned by the couple.
In March of this year, storage units in Los Angeles belonging to Beyonce were burglarized. According to TMZ, over a million dollars of goods were stolen, including expensive dresses and handbags.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Post) (NOLA)
Cleveland’s Baseball Team Changes Name From Indians to Guardians
The move marks the team’s first name change since 1915, and it comes after decades of criticism from Native Americans.
Name Change Announced
Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team said Friday that it will change its name after the 2021 season from the Indians to the Guardians.
The team announced the name change with a just over two-minute video narrated by actor Tom Hanks.
“You see, there’s always been a Cleveland — that’s the best part of our name,” Hanks says in the clip. “And now it’s time to unite as one family, one community, to build the next era for this team and this city.”
This marks the team’s first name change since 1915, and it comes after decades of criticism from Native Americans.
Despite long-running calls to change racist and offensive team names — including the Washington Redskins — such campaigns did not gain significant momentum until the nationwide racial reckoning that followed the murder of George Floyd.
Officials behind the Cleveland team first pledged to change the name last year and previously removed the “Chief Wahoo” logo, a caricature of a Native American character, from its uniforms following the 2018 season.
It toyed with several options before ultimately landing on Guardians, which draws from Cleveland’s architectural history.
“We are excited to usher in the next era of the deep history of baseball in Cleveland,” team owner and chairman Paul Dolan said in a news release.
“Cleveland has and always will be the most important part of our identity. Therefore, we wanted a name that strongly represents the pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders.”
“‘Guardians’ reflects those attributes that define us while drawing on the iconic Guardians of Traffic just outside the ballpark on the Hope Memorial Bridge. It brings to life the pride Clevelanders take in our city and the way we fight together for all who choose to be part of the Cleveland baseball family. While ‘Indians’ will always be a part of our history, our new name will help unify our fans and city as we are all Cleveland Guardians.”
Guardians will be the fifth name in franchise history, joining Blues (1901), Bronchos (1902), Naps (1903-14), and Indians (1915-2021).