IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Texas AG calls for release of salon owner jailed for operating during coronavirus shutdown

A salon owner who defied coronavirus restrictions was trying "to put food on her family's table," the attorney general said.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called the jail sentence of a Dallas salon owner who defied coronavirus shutdown orders "excessive" on Wednesday.

He was the first of three top state leaders, including Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, to decry the seven-day sentence.

In a statement, Paxton said it was a "shameful abuse of discretion" when Dallas County Judge Eric Moye sentenced Salon À la Mode owner Shelley Luther to a week-long stint behind bars for trying "to put food on her family's table."

"He should release Ms. Luther immediately," he said.

Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

Abbott echoed those sentiments. "I join the Attorney General in disagreeing with the excessive action by the Dallas Judge, putting Shelley Luther in jail for seven days," the govenor said in a statement. "As I have made clear through prior pronouncements, jailing Texans for non-compliance with executive orders should always be the last available option."

Calling the punishment "outrageous," Patrick pledged on Twitter to cover the woman's fine.

"I’m covering the $7K fine she had to pay and I volunteer to be placed under House Arrest so she can go to work and feed her kids," he said.

Moye found Luther in criminal and civil contempt after she refused to heed a court order and stop operating her salon.

"The defiance of the court's order was open, flagrant and intentional," Moye wrote Tuesday. "The defendants, although having been given an opportunity to do so, have expressed no contrition, remorse or regret for their contemptuous action."

Hair salons will be allowed to open across the state Friday with social distancing rules in effect.

More than 34,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed across the state, according to an NBC News tally. Nearly 1,000 people have died.