Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered for the “immediate release” of a woman who was sentenced to jail for seven days for refusing to apologize for reopening her salon business in defiance of county lockdown orders.
Abbot released a statement Wednesday denouncing the judge who sentenced Shelley Luther to jail, saying there better ways of protecting public safety than jailing a mom wanting to feed her kids.
“As I have made clear through prior pronouncements, jailing Texans for non-compliance with executive orders should always be the last available option,” Abbot stated.
“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.”
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 6, 2020
Abbot also sided with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who wrote a blistering letter to Judge Eric Moyé accusing him of “abusing” his “discretion” by jailing Luther, citing the fact the county won’t even prosecute thefts and the fact Luther was motivated by the need to feed her children to open her business.
#NEW: Texas Attorney General @KenPaxtonTX sent letter to Dallas Judge Eric Moye saying Moye abused his discretion by putting Shelley Luther, owner of Salon A La Mode, in jail for opening her business despite the #COVID19 shutdown. pic.twitter.com/pWficGXz67
— Jason Whitely (@JasonWhitely) May 6, 2020
“As a mother, Luther wanted to feed her children. As a small business owner, she wanted to her help her employees feed their children. Needless to say, these are laudable goals that warrant the exercise of enforcement discretion,” Paxton wrote.
“Indeed, local officials in Dallas have already gone considerably farther in cases less deserving of enforcement discretion. The Dallas County District Attorney announced that he ‘will not prosecute theft of personal items less than $750 unless the evidence shows that the alleged theft was for economic gain.’”
“If Dallas County is prepared to completely forgo prosecution of actual thefts, it cannot confine a woman to jail because she operated her business,” Paxton added.
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