Laurence Russell Brewer really went to town when he chose his last meal before execution this week. A meat feast with ice cream was prepared and then left untouched, resulting in the State of Texas abandoning the traditional practice.
The last meal before execution is a time honored tradition that is sketched into legend and often a subject of debate by those who are never likely to see the inside of death row. The state of Texas has decided to pull the plug on this extravagance now. From now on the last meal before execution will be regular prison fare rather than the prisoners’ choice.
The final nail was driven into the system this week by white supremacist Lawrence Russell Brewer. Facing execution he went to town with his choice of menu, ordering “Two chicken steaks, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, fried okra, a pound of barbecued pork, three fajitas, a meat lover's pizza, a pint of ice cream, and peanut butter fudge with crushed peanuts,” according to the Independent. Having has his culinary whims satisfied by prison staff, Brewer failed to touch a bite of the meal provided, saying he wasn’t hungry.
Senator John Whitmire, chair of the justice committee, saw red when he heard how the food had been wasted, declaring ''Enough is enough. It is extremely inappropriate to give a person sentenced to death such a privilege. It's a privilege which the perpetrator did not provide to their victim.'' Brad Livingston, director of the Huntsville facility, announced the practice of offering a last meal choice has now been abandoned.
Former death row chef, Brian Price, author of the prison cookbook ‘Meals to Die For,’ claims that complaints are exaggerated, explaining the last meal is not likely to feature lobster and caviar. According to the Chronicle he said “They only get items in the commissary kitchen. If they order lobster, they get a piece of frozen pollack. They quit serving steaks in 1994.” He added “Whitmire’s just getting on a political soapbox.”Different states apply differing approaches to the infamous last meals. Florida imposes a $40 limit. Public interest in the last meals is satisfied by a number of websites dedicated to the subject, including Famous Last Meals.com.