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Abbott modifies executive orders for reopening to remove jail time for violators

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Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday he was modifying his recent executive orders related to the coronavirus pandemic to eliminate jail time for Texans who violate them. The move by Abbott is an attempt to free Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther, who was sentenced to seven days in jail earlier this week for defying orders to keep her business closed during the pandemic, and others who have violated similar orders in recent weeks.

“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, adding that his order is retroactive to April 2 and supersedes local directives. "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 in his statement also mentioned that his modifications “may also ensure” that others in similar cases “should not be subject to confinement.” Abbott referenced Ana Isabel Castro-Garcia and Brenda Stephanie Mata, who last month were arrested and charged with violating the community’s emergency management plan, according to the Laredo Morning Times.