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New Texas Executive Orders Eliminate Jail As Punishment, Gov. Abbott Says 'If Correctly Applied Should Free Shelley Luther'

AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) - After supporting the actions of a Dallas salon owner who was jailed for violating executive stay at home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has now modified his executive orders and eliminated confinement as a punishment for violating the mandates.

Abbott was among those who chimed in Wednesday supporting Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton after he called for the "immediate release" of salon owner Shelley Luther, who was sentenced to seven days in jail earlier this week on contempt of court charges for disobeying a judge's temporary restraining order prohibiting her from operating her salon.

On Thursday Abbott said, "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," and said that Luther's arrest was among the reasons why he modified his executive orders.

A statement put out by the governor's office said, in part:

"This order is retroactive to April 2nd, supersedes local orders and if correctly applied should free Shelley Luther. As some county judges advocate for releasing hardened criminals from jail to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is absurd to have these business owners take their place."

Abbott's statement also referenced Ana Isabel Castro-Garcia and Brenda Stephanie Mata, two women who were arrested in April for violating a community emergency management plan in Laredo.

After the announcement Paxton issued a statement applauding the governor's actions saying they ensure that penalties are reasonable and not excessive. "All Texans are trying to get through this crisis together and no one should be put in jail unnecessarily," he said. "No Texan should face jail time for resisting an order that temporarily closes a lawful business in an attempt to feed their families."

Amid all the news about the executive order change, CBS 11 News learned that the Supreme Court of Texas has ordered that Luther be released from jail.

It was on Wednesday when Abbott released a statement saying that jailing Texans for non-compliance with executive orders should always be the last available option.

Texas began letting restaurants and retailers reopen last week under limited capacity. The latest orders issued from the state allow for more nonessential businesses, like salons and barber shops, to reopen their doors on Friday, May 8.


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