AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has removed jail as a punishment for violating his coronavirus restrictions.
His new order Thursday follows outcry by conservatives over a Dallas salon owner who was jailed for refusing to keep her business closed.
Abbott says 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.
The reversal reflects the increasing pressure Abbott is under to reboot the state's economy at a much faster pace.
Wednesday, Abbott called for Luther’s release, said the judge’s ruling was excessive and said jail time should only be used for the most excessive violations of his orders.
"Compliance with executive orders during this pandemic is important to ensure public safety; however, surely there are less restrictive means to achieving that goal than jailing a Texas mother," he said in a statement obtained by ABC News.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton also called for Luther’s “immediate release.” In a statement
obtained by KTVT,
he said he believes the judge is abusing his authority and that Luther's arrest seems like a “political stunt.”