The last meal of a condemned prisoner is a customary ritual before execution. In many countries, the prisoner is given the right, within limits, to choose his or her last meal. But did you know Texas no longer allows this?
After Lawrence Brewer, a convicted murderer, ordered a feast and refused to eat it in 2011, Texas no longer allowed last meal requests for death row inmates.
Abolishing the Option of a Last Meal to Deathrow Inmates
The massive meal that white supremacist Lawrence Russell Brewer ordered and then left untouched before his execution on Wednesday convinced Texas officials to abandon the state’s longstanding practice of providing death row inmates with a last meal of their choice.
Maybe it was the big bowl of fried okra with ketchup. Then again, it could have been the two chicken fried steaks smothered in gravy and onions or the cheese omelet with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, and bell and jalapeno peppers.The Houston Chronicle
Perhaps it was because Brewer also requested three fajitas, one pound of barbecue and a half loaf of white bread, pizza meat lover’s special, one pint of homemade vanilla Blue Bell ice cream, one slab of peanut butter fudge with crushed peanuts, and tree root beers.
The Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Whitmire has threatened to introduce legislation to force state officials to stop catering to the wishes of death row inmates. State prisons chief Brad Livingston then announced that prisoners will now be served whatever other inmates receive.
Brewer was executed for his role in the 1998 dragging death of James Byrd Jr., a black man from East Texas. Accomplice John William King remains in prison while his case is being appealed, and a third man, Shawn Berry, received a life sentence. (Source: NPR)
How Do Other Inmates Share Their Last Meals?
In the United States, most states serve the meal a day or two before the execution and refer to it as a special meal. Alcohol and tobacco are typically, but not always prohibited. Requests that are unusual or unavailable are replaced with similar substitutes. Some states impose severe restrictions. Food for the last meal must be purchased locally in Florida, and the cost is limited to $40.
The cost is limited to $25 in Oklahoma. The prison warden traditionally joins the condemned prisoner for the last meal in Louisiana. The warden once paid for an inmate’s lobster dinner.
Sometimes a prisoner requests to share their last meal with another inmate or to distribute the meal among other inmates. Which was acceptable at the time.
Unfortunately, after the condemned prisoner and white supremacist Lawrence Russell Brewer requested a large and expensive last meal. He did not eat any of it, claiming he was not hungry. This triggered the state of Texas to ban all special last meal requests in September 2011. (Source: NPR)
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