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Texas ends last meals for condemned

Associated Press / September 23, 2011

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HOUSTON - Texas inmates who are set to be executed will no longer get their choice of last meals, a change prison officials made yesterday after a prominent state senator became miffed over an expansive request from a man condemned for a notorious dragging death.

Lawrence Russell Brewer, who was executed Wednesday for the hate crime slaying of James Byrd Jr. more than a decade ago, asked for 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. Prison officials said Brewer didn’t eat any of it.

“It is extremely inappropriate to give a person sentenced to death such a privilege,’’ Senator John Whitmire, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, wrote in a letter yesterday to Brad Livingston, executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Within hours, Livingston said the senator’s concerns were valid and the practice of allowing death row offenders to choose their final meal was history.

“Effective immediately, no such accommodations will be made,’’ Livingston said. “They will receive the same meal served to other offenders on the unit.’’

That had been the suggestion from Whitmire, who called the traditional request ridiculous.

“It’s long overdue,’’ the Houston Democrat said. “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.’’

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