It's just not good enough to kill them, in Texas. Because following last night's execution of Lawrence Brewer, a white supremacist who killed a black man by dragging his body from the back of his pick-up truck and eventually severed his head, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has decided to stop granting special "last meals" to those being executed. Brewer's meal, see, was over-the-top!
State Senator John Whitmire, according to the Houston Press, wrote a letter today to the TDCJ regarding Brewer's extravagant last meal request, asking them to "end this practice immediately" or have him do it "by statute next session."
For TDCJ to allow inmate Brewer to order...two chicken fried steaks, a triple meat bacon cheeseburger, a cheese omelet, a large bowl of fried okra, three fajitas, a pint of Blue Bell ice cream and a pound of barbecue with half a loaf of white bread is ridiculous.
It didn't take long for TDCJ executive director Brad Livingston to respond:
I believe Senator Whitmire's concerns regarding the practice of allowing death row offenders to choose their last meal are valid. Effective immediately, no such accommodations will be made. They will receive the same meal served to other offenders on the unit.
Okay. So there's a broader debate here about whether special last meals should be granted, and your position may hinge on whether or not you support capital punishment in the first place. Is it offensive to "reward" a (possibly) guilty brutal murderer with a fancy meal — and in this case, Brewer didn't even eat any of it — or is it a small token of humanity from the government before it straps someone to a gurney and kills him with an injection of chemicals?
In this case, though, the impetus for action was just that Whitmire thought Brewer's meal was too big! If that's the problem, politicians should be capable of finding a middle-ground — say, limiting orders to a normal meal size. Guess that wouldn't be quite as sexy a means of pandering, though.
Related: Last Suppers: How Do You Choose a Final Meal on Death Row?