Texas governor softens order over jailed hair salon owner

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Kristi Lisenbee, from Keller, Texas, holds a sign with other protesters as they gather to call for the release of jailed salon owner Shelley Luther in front of the Dallas Municipal Court building in downtown Dallas, Wednesday, May 6, 2020. Luther was sentenced to several days in jail after failing to shut down her business, Salon a la Mode, during the coronavirus pandemic. (Lynda M. Gonzalez/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Republican 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 jailed for refusing to keep her business closed.

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.

“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.

The reversal reflects the increasing pressure Abbott is under to reboot the state’s economy at a much faster pace.

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