Food & the Law

Texas Ends Last Meals for Death Row Prisoners

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Mon, Sep 26, 2011 at 7:30 AM

click to enlarge No more last meal requests for brisket from Texas death row inmates. - GUZZLE & NOSH
  • Guzzle & Nosh
  • No more last meal requests for brisket from Texas death row inmates.
Texas will stop serving final meals to death row inmates after a state lawmaker complained about an inmate's absurdly large last supper. Lawrence Brewer, who was executed last Wednesday in Huntsville, requested a belt-busting dinner that included, according to the Houston Chronicle, two chicken-fried steaks with gravy and sliced onions, a triple-patty bacon cheeseburger, a cheese omelet with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and jalapeños, a bowl of fried okra with ketchup, one pound of barbecued meat with half a loaf of white bread, three fajitas, a meat-lover's pizza, one pint of Blue Bell Ice Cream, a slab of peanut-butter fudge with crushed peanuts and three root beers.

State Sen. John Whitmire, a Houston Democrat, was so outraged, he demanded that the state prison agency stop preparing final meals, reports the Los Angeles Times. To add insult to injury, Brewer didn't eat any of his dinner.

Brewer has been sitting on death row for 12 years, convicted for the 1998 dragging death of James Byrd Jr.

Brewer, a white supremacist, and two accomplices kidnapped, beat and tortured Byrd, a 49-year-old black man. They then dragged him to death by hooking a logging chain to a pickup truck. The slaying helped inspire state and federal hate-crimes legislation.

In a letter to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Whitmire demands that they end the practice of last meals immediately. ed that all final meals be ended, and the TDJC will follow his wishes.

Last meals are handled differently, state by state. Some states don't honor them at all. Others limit the cost of the meal ($40: Florida). Others only allow inmates to choose from items already on the prison's menu (Virginia).

In Texas, last meals can only be prepared from food already in the prison kitchen. That means no extravagant delights (escamole tacos, lobster wrapped filet mignon, xiao long bao), no outsize portions (Brewer received less than the full pound of brisket he had requested) and no outside food.

The most popular last meal request among death row convicts? An American classic: the burger.

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