In response to a hair salon owner who was sentenced this week to seven days in jail for opening her store in defiance of shutdown mandates, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday that he was eliminating jail as a possible punishment for violating his own shutdown order. The new order will be retroactive to April 2 “superseding local orders,” Abbott said, meaning it would overturn the Dallas judge’s decision.
"Throwing Texans in jail whose [business] shut down through no fault of their own is wrong," Abbott posted on Twitter Thursday. "I am eliminating jail for violating an order, retroactive to April 2, superseding local orders. Criminals shouldn’t be released to prevent COVID-19 just to put business owners in their place."
Throwing Texans in jail whose biz's shut down through no fault of their own is wrong.— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 7, 2020
I am eliminating jail for violating an order, retroactive to April 2, superseding local orders.
Criminals shouldn’t be released to prevent COVID-19 just to put business owners in their place.
Shelley Luther, owner of Salon a la Mode in the Dallas area, was sentenced to a week in jail and thousands in fines after she opened up her store despite shutdown orders, and then publicly ripped up a “cease-and-desist” letter ordering her to once again close her doors. Luther later told the court at her hearing that she was faced with the decision either to open back up for business, or watch her employees go hungry because they couldn’t pay their bills and feed their families.
Dallas judge Eric Moye demanded Luther apologize for her actions, telling her she could avoid jail time “If you would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge that your own actions were selfish, putting your own interest ahead of those in the community in which you live.”
“I have much respect for this court and laws. I have never been in this position before and it’s not someplace that I want to be,” she said, according to reports. “But I have to disagree with you sir, when you say that I’m selfish because feeding my kids — is not selfish. I have hair stylists that are going hungry because they’d rather feed their kids. So sir, if you think the law is more important than kids getting fed, then please go ahead with you decision but I am not going to shut the salon.”
The judge’s decision to sentence her to jail time, particularly after many local jails across the country have released previously convicted criminals to avoid COVID-19 outbreaks in prisons, infuriated the Internet. Thousands called for a reversal of the decision, while donors quickly raised more than $200,000 for Luther in a crowdfunding campaign.
While he may have spared her some jail time, Abbott's statement didn't address the thousands of dollars in fines Luther is racking up to the tune of $500 per day for keeping her store open.
(Cover Photo: Gage Skidmore)