In 2012, Tanya McDowell, a homeless Black mother who lied about her son’s residence so he could attend a better school, was sentenced to 5 years in prison. Outrage has since sparked as critics point out the stark contrast between McDowell’s sentence and the 14-day sentence imposed to actress Felicity Huffman, who was involved in a college admissions scandal.
McDowell was charged with first-degree larceny after she allegedly used the address of her son’s babysitter to get him in an elementary school in the neighboring town of Norwalk.
McDowell was also charged with two counts of sale of narcotics after being accused of selling drugs to undercover police on two occasions. She pleaded guilty to both charges and it was for both that she received the 5-year sentence, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Michael DeJoseph.
During her sentencing, McDowell said in court, “I have no regrets seeking a better education for him, I do regret my participation in this drug case.”
Many critics have called out the sentencing saying that it was unfair that she received a 5-year sentence while Huffman, who reportedly paid $15,000 to an admission consultant to have a proctor correct her daughter’s answers to get a high score on the SAT test, only received a 14-day sentence.
However, DeJoseph said that her sentence would really be different because of the drug convictions. He said, “These cases are so dissimilar as to be comparing apples to motor oil.”