Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday removed jail as a punishment for violating his coronavirus restrictions following outcry by conservatives over a Dallas salon owner who was locked up for refusing to keep her business closed.
In a swift relaxing of his own rules, Abbott said his new order should free Shelley Luther, who was booked in the Dallas County jail this week for keeping her salon open in defiance of the governor's restrictions meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Luther refused to apologize for repeatedly flouting the order, leading a judge to find her in contempt of court and sentence her to a week behind bars. Her punishment quickly became a rallying cry for Republican lawmakers and conservative activists, and one online fundraising campaign had raised more the $500,000 for Luther as of Thursday morning.
“Throwing Texans in jail who have had their businesses shut down through no fault of their own is nonsensical, and I will not allow it to happen,” Abbott said in a statement. He also mentioned two women along the Texas border who were similarly jailed for violating his executive orders, but whose arrests have not drawn as much attention or inspired protests.
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