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Why Big Freedia Shouldn't Do Jail Time Over Housing Vouchers

The feds should reconsider locking up the New Orleans Bounce music queen over her misuse of the city's housing-subsidy program.
Big Freedia, center, at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Big Freedia, center, at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.John Davisson/Invision/AP

Big Freedia is “the queen diva” of New Orleans’ Bounce music scene, and has raised the profile of the genre over the past few years to mainstream status. (She most recently appeared on Beyonce’s controversial song “Formation.”) Her rise has been quick: After a few hit singles , including one with RuPaul, Freedia now has her own TV show and even a video game. But her fast climb to celebrity may have contributed to some bad judgement along the way—compounded by her home city’s broken housing and criminal justice systems.  

Freedia pled guilty Wednesday to a federal felony charge of stealing government funds. She was charged on March 1 by Louisiana U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite for fraudulently collecting thousands of dollars in housing vouchers, which are supposed to go to families that earn modest incomes.