The college admissions scandal is just one example of privilege

Jasmine Perez, Reporter

Lori Loughlin sparked controversy when news broke about her involvement in the Varsity Blues admissions scandal in 2019.

Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli paid a coach to make their daughters, Olivia Jade and Isabella Giannulli, appear as “pro rowing athletes” to gain their admission to the University of Southern California.

In August, it was announced that Loughlin would be sentenced to two months in prison plus a $150,000 fine and 100 hours of community service. She will also serve two years of parole.

She requested to be placed in a Victorville prison, which is conveniently within two hours of her home. She will begin her sentence on Nov. 19, according to L.A. Times.

I feel her punishment was too lenient because, after all, she committed a federal crime and her sentence does not reflect the severity of that.

In prison, Loughlin will have access to yoga classes, pilates, ceramics, music and many more activities, according to an article by Insider.

I get that she is a celebrity, but she shouldn’t be the one hand-picking her prison. Letting her have all this access to choose her punishment doesn’t sit right with me.

Many people who commit federal crimes are in prison for 10 to 20 years. In many cases, people who commit federal crimes are sent to prison right away.

Molly George, associate professor of Criminal Justice at California Lutheran University, who teaches White Collar Crime and other criminology courses, said Loughlin’s case is very interesting because of the different dynamics involved.

“Loughlin and her husband, in addition to the other celebrities and wealthy families embroiled in the college admission scandal illuminate the vast inequalities connected to class and race that are inherent in our educational and justice institutions,” George said in an email interview.

From the beginning, I felt like Loughlin’s choice to plead not guilty made no sense at all.

There was evidence that she did indeed pay someone to create a fake athletic profile of her daughters as athletes to get them into USC.

In a way, Loughlin already knew the consequences if she was to be caught, but she probably didn’t think she would be held accountable because of her and her husband’s wealth and fame

“As evidenced by Loughlin’s original assertion of innocence that she maintained for over a year, she seemed to think just like college admission, that her privilege could get her and her family into, or out of anything,” George said. “She ultimately agreed to plead guilty after prosecutors dropped bribery and money laundering charges, which could have brought a lengthier prison terms.”

Karen Oakman, adjunct Criminology and Criminal Justice professor at Cal Lutheran since 2015 and attorney representing clients in criminal matters, said in an email interview that this is how the law works in cases like these.

Oakman said white-collar crimes are not punished as harshly as they should be, and overall Loughlin’s sentence was not surprising.

“Many of the white-collar press-worthy cases are always made out to be a bigger deal than they end up being. All the headlines state things like ‘Facing 10 years in prison,’ ‘reprehensible conduct’, etc., but when it comes down to it, people spend less time than they [Loughlin and her husband] do for misdemeanor crimes like driving under the influence,” Oakman said. “Just like other white-collar crimes before, there is no difference. Big headlines, serious charges, clients with money, and low repercussions are par for course.”

In many cases of well-known celebrities, once they commit a crime, they don’t get a sentence of equal substance to their crime.

It is frustrating to see celebrities get special treatment by getting a shorter sentence or not being sentenced to prison and just paying a fine while there are people in these federal prisons doing more time for less serious crimes.

George said she hopes the social stigma of her actions and a longer-term punishment is a warning to other wealthy parents who think they can cheat the system.

I hope, moving forward, the judge doesn’t leverage wealth or fame as a reason for getting away with crimes like this.

“In the US, we still adhere to the myth of meritocracy–this idea that people should get ahead based on their accomplishments, not their parents’ social class, or their race, gender, or sexual orientation,” George said. “Part of our awakening as a society is to accept that this is not true and to actively work to change systems that have long privileged the white, wealthy and the elite.”