How a Texas Inmate Changed Death Row in Our State Forever
Here's something I learned about Texas history today.
The Death Row Last Meal
What is something you know about folks on Death Row? Well they're probably trying appeal the sentence hoping that they don't get put to death. Which someone can be on Death Row for several decades. However, the one thing we always hear about are the last meals that people request. That's right, before you perish, you get to request one last meal before your death. Today I learned, Texas does not do this.
Why Does Texas Not Give Death Row Last Meals?
^It's all because of this guy here, Lawrence Russell Brewer who was sentenced to death for the killing of James Byrd Jr in Jasper, Texas. This was a hate crime where James was dragged from the back of Lawrence's pickup truck through the streets of Jasper. Absolutely horrific crime, so the state of Texas sentenced him to death in 1998. Lawrence sat on Death row til 2011. That is when his last meal request came in.
What Did Lawrence Order?
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. That's quite the meal, but if you're going to go out. Might as well make it everything you like. Here's the problem, Lawrence didn't touch any of it. He didn't take a single bite.
"It is extremely inappropriate to give a person sentenced to death such a privilege," Sen. John Whitmire, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, wrote in a letter back in 2011 to Brad Livingston, the executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Since this incident, no one in Texas on Death Row has received a last meal request. Your final meal is whatever everybody else on Death Row is eating that day.
What Do Other States Do?
I learned Florida has a $40 limit on the meal. In Oklahoma, the limit is $25. Louisiana maybe has the strangest tradition where the prison warden actually joins the inmate for the final meal. You can actually see what some folks have ordered as their last meals over here. So that's a weird bit of Texas trivia I didn't know. We no longer allow a Death Row last meal.