‘Feeding my kids is not selfish’: Hair Salon Owner Imprisoned For Opening During Lockdown

Dallas, United States: Ken Paxton, the attorney general of Texas, last Wednesday described a judge’s order that the owner of a hairdressing salon spent a week in prison after she kept on working despite the coronavirus rules put in place as “outrageous.”

Paxton sent a letter to Dallas County Judge Eric Moye, in which he called for Shelley Luther to be freed from prison. Fellow Republican, Governor Greg Abbott, also issued a statement asking for her to be set free.

Paxton said the following:

“I find it outrageous and out of touch that during this national pandemic, a judge, in a county that actually released hardened criminals for fear of contracting COVID-19, would jail a mother for operating her hair salon in an attempt to put food on her family’s table,” 

Shelley Luther. Image credit: Dallas County Sheriff’s Department

The salon owner was brought into Dallas County jail on Tuesday after a video hearing, in which she was found in contempt of court.

The hearing took place as Governor Abbott eased down restrictions in the state, permitting hairdressers and barbers to reopen their salons on Friday.

In April, Shelley was issued a citation for keeping her business open despite the ongoing restrictions.

During her hearing on Tuesday, she said she kept the place open due to a lack of money.

“I couldn’t feed my family, and my stylists couldn’t feed their families,” Shelley testified, saying she had made a request for a federal loan but did not receive it until Sunday.

During the hearing, Judge Mote said he would consider giving her a fine instead of time in prison if Shelley would make an apology and did not reopen her business until she was permitted to do so. But she refused.

“I have much respect for this court and laws. I have never been in this position before and it’s not someplace that I want to be,” Shelley told the court, according to CBS Dallas Fort Worth. “But I have to disagree with you, sir, when you say that I’m selfish because feeding my kids — is not selfish. I have hair stylists that are going hungry because they’d rather feed their kids. So sir, if you think the law is more important than kids getting fed, then please go ahead with your decision but I am not going to shut the salon.”

Judge Moye later wrote in his judgment of contempt:

“The defiance of the court’s order was open, flagrant and intentional.”

Moye stressed that even though she was given the chance to make things right, the salon owner  “expressed no contrition, remorse or regret” for what she did.

See CBSDFW’s report on the story in the video below.

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