Texas Ends Offering last Meal Requests to Prisoners on Death Row

It was the meal request to end all meal requests, quite literally. Lawrence Brewer, a 44-year old convicted murdered and self-proclaimed white supremacist requested a lavish last meal on the state of Texas several hours before his scheduled execution and subsequently refused to eat it. Brewer, convicted in 1998 for the dragging death of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper, Texas, simply decided he didn’t want his last meal at the last minute.

What was the request?

Brewer asked for two-chicken-fried steaks with gravy; a triple-decker cheeseburger; cheese omelet; fried okra; a pound of barbeque meat; half a loaf of white bread; three fajitas; a meat-lover’s pizza; a pint of Blue Bell Ice Cream; a slab of peanut-butter fudge and three root beers. The prison complied with his request, and when Brewer received the meal, he shoved it to the side.

This pushed Democratic State Senator John Whitmire over the edge. Whitmire was already perturbed about the lavishness of the meal itself, and after hearing Brewer’s blatant disregard for his digs, Whitmore sent a letter to the director the state prison agency, Brad Livingston the following Thursday; demanding that prisons stop preparing last meals. Livingston agreed.

Whitmire justifies his decision by stating that, he has been a long time proponent of ceasing the last meal initiative. He was quoted in the L.A. Times as saying; his disapproval of the special “death row menu” was “compounded” when Brewer refused his last meal. Whitmire added that he wished he had taken the initiative much sooner.

Despite outcries from Texas prison advocacy groups, Whitmire and Livingston remain unmoved in this decision. Whitmire later released a statement citing that Brewer’s victim or other victims of death row inmates did not receive a “last meal”, thus there was no reason for these hardened, convicted criminals to receive one either. Whitmire is steadfast in making sure that the last meal initiative is not revived, not on his watch anyway.

There is no telling whether or not this will have a large impact on the prison funding budget. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice doesn’t track costs of last meals, since they are all prepared in the prison kitchen. Regardless, Texas doesn’t have enough executions each year to really justify accounting for that area, despite the lavishness of the meal. In other words, it won’t make or break the state budget.

Citizens and cooks of the prisons, however, are reaching out to death row inmates. One prison cook, Brian Price, has even offered to prepare last meal requests of the dead men walking for free. Of course, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has no intention of taking Mr. Price up on his generous offer. So as it stands, there is no chance for a last minute, last meal for anyone residing on death row.