Justice has not been rightfully served as “Full House” star Lori Loughlin serves a two-month sentence with the prison of her choice after pleading guilty to a $500,000 college cheating scandal that has ensnared around 50 people, including actress Felicity Huffman. Leading to the repeatedly asked question: If Loughlin was in a Black woman’s shoes, would her sentence be the same?
Evidently not as one clear-cut example of inequality in education is Tanya McDowell’s case. A Black homeless woman who went to prison for five years after enrolling her son in a school outside of her district. The 2012 case stimulated a much-needed discussion about privilege and wealth within the U.S. educational system.
Following Loughlin’s recent “luxe” case, many people and celebrities like Lebron James and Meek Mill took to social media, comparing the discrepancy of McDowell’s unjust case to Loughlin and Huffman’s admissions case — Huffman only served a 14-day sentence in 2019.
“In Ohio, Kelley Williams-Bolar was charged for lying about her residency to get her child into a better school and ordered to pay restitution of $30,000,” Rebecca J. Kavanagh, a New York City public defender, told Refinery29. “When she didn’t pay it, she was sent to jail for 15 days.”
However, multiple critics question the relevance between the Hollywood stars’ and McDowell’s case when McDowell was sentenced for charges of first-degree larceny and two accounts of narcotics. Many of those critics failed to recognize that countless White women with a profession have been imprisoned with shorter time than the Bridgeport, Connecticut native in the past and present.
Proper representation is the former Ashtabula-area mail carrier, Darcy Spangler, pleaded guilty for trafficking cocaine from her USPS vehicle only sentenced to two years of probation, not prison, on August 24. The occurrence happened in Cleveland, Ohio, and the 53-year-old woman’s bond was set at $8,000 compared to the then-34-year-old McDowell’s bond of $200,000.
Additionally, U.S. public education systems are not made equal, which unfortunately forces many parents from low-income backgrounds to use family members and friends’ addresses to get their children into a better school district. Loughlin and Huffman hold all the essential resources — money, connections, prominent fame — at their leisure for higher education and still proceed to cheat, causing the public outcry of inequality.
“Nationally, EdBuild researchers found that school districts that mostly serve nonwhite students get $23 billion less in state and local spending each year than those with predominantly white student populations — even though they educate roughly the same number of children,” reported journalist Mark Keierleber on The 74 million. “That breaks down to about $2,200 per student, affecting roughly 10 million kids. Predominantly nonwhite districts received less funding than majority-white districts in 21 states and they received more in 14 states.”
However, 56-year-old Loughlin lied on a much larger scale than McDowell as she and her designer husband Mossimo Giannulli reportedly paid over $500,000 to get their two daughters into the University of South Carolina (USC). The two daughters, Olivia Jade and Isabella Giannulli, were 20 and 22 years old opposed to McDowell’s only son, who was six during her incarceration.
Despite all discrepancies, Loughlin plans to reside in a full house of 185 women styled similar to the Netflix show “Orange Is the New Black” by November 19. The facility, Victorville’s minimum-security camp, is the closest federal prison to Loughlin’s house in California, where Dance Moms star Abby Lee Miller served her time. Although the prison seems more pleasurable than punishable as Loughlin will have access to commissary, 300 minute phone time per month, and various retreat activities like yoga or arts and crafts.
Once Loughlin completes her seemingly relaxing retreat at the Victorville prison, she’ll follow two years of supervised release. Loughlin was also charged with a fine of $150,000 and complete 100 community service hours along with her imprisonment.
In comparison to McDowell, after she finished her imprisonment in 2017, she was ordered to follow five years of probation and a 12-year suspended sentence. However, after her release, McDowell said in a 2017 interview with The Hour that she would do it again for her son to have a better education.
“I would still do it all over again because I haven’t been let down. My son exceeded all of my expectations,” McDowell said in the interview as her son lived with her mother during her served time. “I’m not only doing it for Andrew [McDowell’s son]. I’m doing it for any other parent, any other child out there that has the potential to exceed and excel at a certain level and is just being deprived, period.”
With a system that favorably caters to those of powerful and wealthy status, minorities across the nation face inequality not only within education but within all elements of they partake in their everyday lives.