Felicity Huffman's two-week jail sentence triggers claims of 'white privilege'

Ben Riley-Smith
Actor Felicity Huffman said it was to her 'eternal shame' that she did not pull out of the scheme  - REUTERS
Actor Felicity Huffman said it was to her 'eternal shame' that she did not pull out of the scheme - REUTERS

Actress Felicity Huffman has been accused of benefiting from “white privilege” after getting just 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 tennis player, were among those who took to Twitter to suggest Ms Huffman had got off lightly given her background. 

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. 

Ms Huffman, best known for her starring role in the TV series Desperate Housewives, 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 child got into top colleges, sometimes by phony sports scholarships. 

Many of the cases are still going through the courts. 

Ms Huffman pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud. She expressed regret at paying $15,000 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 fine $30,000 fine, supervised release for a year and 250 hours of community service. 

Like many, Mr 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: She tweeted: “Is there anyone that can still argue there is no such thing as WHITE PRIVILEGE?!?”

Ms Mason, who is fighting her conviction, also commented, saying in a statement: “I don’t wish this for anyone, but a sentence to 14 days for actual serious fraud just shows how unfair my sentence is.”

Ms 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.