Update: Prison Ends Fancy Last Meals for Death Row Inmates
Update: Within hours of getting a "strong" letter from a powerful state senator, the head of the Texas prison system ordered an end to the practice of giving condemned prisoners anything they want for their "last meal."
State Senator John Whitmire of Houston is Chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, which oversees the state's huge prison system, and when he talks, people who run the prisons listen.
Whitmire says it's time to put an end to the practice of giving death-row inmates anything they want to eat for their last meal. "Enough is enough" Whitmire says.
Whitmire was reacting to news reports of the huge last meal ordered Wednesday by inmate Lawrence Russell Brewer in the hours before his execution for his role in the truck dragging death of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper County in 1998.
For his last meal, Brewer ordered two chicken fried steaks, a triple meat bacon cheeseburger, a cheese omelet, a large bowl of fried okra, three fajitas, a pizza, a pint of Blue Bell ice cream, and a pound of barbecue with a half loaf of white bread. It all went to waste because Brewer didn't eat it.
Whitmire says that was the last straw for him. He fired off an official letter to the head of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice saying this practice must be stopped.
He told the top TDCJ official to end it on his own order immediately, or he, Whitmire, will push legislation to end it in the next session.
Whitmire says even on the day of their scheduled execution, death row inmates should get the same meal all other death row inmates get. Nothing more, nothing less.
Update: TDCJ officials agreed and acted swiftly. Within hours, "fancy" last meals were history.
As might be expected, there are differing opinions on this. Many say it's about time, while others wonder why it's so wrong to show an act of kindness to someone who's about to be put to death.
Here's what one newspaper columnist thinks: