HOUSTON -- Texas inmates who are set to be executed no longer will get their choice of last meals, a change prison officials made Thursday after a state senator became miffed over an expansive request from a man condemned for a notorious dragging death.
Lawrence R. 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," Sen. John Whitmire, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, wrote in a letter Thursday to Brad Livingston, the 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."
Brewer, a member of a white-supremacist gang, was convicted of chaining Byrd, 49, to the back of a pickup truck and dragging him to his death along a bumpy road in a case that shocked the nation for its brutality.
It was not immediately clear whether other states have made similar moves. Some limit the final meal cost -- Florida's ceiling is $40, according to the Department of Corrections website, with food to be purchased locally.
Others, like Texas, which never had a designated dollar limit, mandate that meals be prison-made. Some states don't acknowledge final meals.