Texas Abolishes Last Meal Requests For Death Row Inmates

September 22, 2011 2:11 pm

The Texas prison system ended the tradition of offering death row inmates a last meal request, apparently in response to white supremacist Lawrence Brewer’s particularly elaborate request before he was put to death Wednesday — a meal that he then declined.Houston state Senator John Whitmire (D), who chairs the Texas Senate Committee on Criminal Justice, wrote a letter to prison officials on Thursday demanding that they end the practice. “Enough is enough,” he wrote. “It is extremely inappropriate to give a person sentenced to death such a privilege. It’s a privilege which the perpetrator did not provide to their victim.”

Brewer, a member of a white supremacist group, was convicted of chaining James Byrd Jr. to the back of a pickup truck and dragging him until he died.

Reuters reports:

Brewer requested an elaborate meal that included a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, a meat-lover’s pizza, a big bowl of okra with ketchup, a pound of barbecue, a half a loaf of bread, peanut butter fudge, a pint of ice cream and two chicken-fried steaks.

When the meal arrived around 4PM, Brewer said he wasn’t hungry.

Whitmire threatened to introduce legislation to end the practice, but the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said Thursday it would just end it anyway. Brad Livingston, the executive director of the TDCJ, said death row prisoners would get “the same meal served to other offenders.”

“I believe Senator Whitmire’s concerns regarding the practice of allowing death row offenders to choose their last meal are valid. Effective immediately, no such accommodations will be made,” Livingston said.

“It’s long overdue,” Whitmire told the AP. “This old boy last night, enough is enough. We’re fixing to execute the guy and maybe it makes the system feel good about what they’re fixing to do. Kind of hypocritical, you reckon?”

“Mr. Byrd didn’t get to choose his last meal. The whole deal is so illogical,” he added.

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