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Texas Eliminates 'Last Meal' Requests After Lawrence Brewer's Execution

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By Meagan Johnson, Christian Post Contributor
September 23, 2011|10:48 am

The Texas prison system decided Thursday to eliminate the time-honored practice of providing death row inmates a last meal of their choice before being executed.

The execution of convicted murderer Lawrence Brewer prompted state Sen. John Whitmire to object to the tradition.

Brewer was executed Sept. 21 and requested for his last meal two chicken fried steaks, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, fried okra, a pound of barbecue, three fajitas, a meat lover's pizza, a pint of ice cream and a slab of peanut butter fudge with crushed peanuts.

When the meal arrived two hours before the scheduled execution, Brewer declined the food telling prison officials he was not hungry, Reuters reported.

Brewer, a white supremacist, was executed by lethal injection for murdering James Byrd Jr., a black man, in 1998. Brewer, with the help of two other men, dragged Byrd, Jr. behind a pickup truck for several miles until he died.

"It is extremely inappropriate to give a person sentenced to death such a privilege," Whitmore wrote in a letter Thursday to Brad Livingston, the executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, according to the Washington Post.

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Whitmore warned that if the "last meal of choice" practice were not stopped, he would seek a state law to end the "ridiculous" tradition when the legislature convened next session.

Livingston agreed with the senator's concerns and said, "Effective immediately, no such accommodations will be made. They will receive the same meal served to other offenders on the unit."

"It's long overdue," Whitmore told the Associated Press. "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.

Inmate Cleve Foster, whose execution was scheduled Sept. 20, requested two fried chickens, French fries and a five-gallon bucket of peaches before the U.S. Supreme Court granted a reprieve.

Some states have a cost restriction on last meals or only allow inmates to order from a menu. Others do not even recognize the practice, said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

 

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