The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX


September 22, 2011

TDCJ end final meal requests

HUNTSVILLE — In a letter to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice on Thursday, Sen. John Whitmire demanded ending final meal request for death row inmates.

The reaction comes in light of Lawrence Brewer’s execution earlier this week, where the convicted murderer ordered a significant amount of food, but did not attempt to eat it.

Brewer ordered two chicken fried steaks, smothered in gravy with sliced onions; a triple meat bacon cheeseburger; a cheese omelet with ground beef, tomatoes, onions and jalapeños; a large bowl of fried okra with ketchup; a pound of BBQ with a half loaf of white bread; fajitas and Blue Bell Homemade Ice Cream.

Sen. Whitmire directed the letter of disapproval to TDCJ Executive Director Brad Livingston.

“I have long been concerned and opposed to the practice of providing a last meal of choice to death row inmates just prior to their execution,” Whitmire wrote. “It is extremely inappropriate to give a person sentenced to death such a privilege - one which the perpetrator did not provide to their victim.

“I have yielded to TDCJ judgment in the past, but now enough is enough.”

Death row inmates are allowed to order anything on the cafeteria menu, so TDCJ does not provide them with food that is not already available at the prison. However, death row inmates are allowed to order as much food as they wish from that menu.

Final meal request are often of large proportions.

Gayland Bradford was executed June 1 for a $7 robbery at a Dallas convenient store in 1988. For his final meal request, Bradford ate chicken and jalapenos, peanut butter cake, butter rolls, two steak and cheese omelets, hash browns with ketchup, and a root beer.

Lee Andrew Taylor received the lethal injection June 16 for murdering a man while they were in prison. The incident was reported to be a battle of race hate.

For his final meal, Taylor requested a medium pizza with cheese, beef, black olives and mushrooms. In addition, Taylor ate four soft tacos, large bowls of fried okra and one pint of Blue Bell Ice Cream.

Mark Stroman received the lethal injection in July for killing two South Asian men in response to 9/11 attacks.

Stroman’s final meal request consisted of battered chicken, fried steak with gravy, 12 crispy pieces of bacon, a ham and cheese omelet, fried potatoes, squash and okra. He also received three large Dr. Pepper’s and a pint of vanilla Blue Bell Ice Cream.

“I am asking that you end this practice immediately or I am prepared to do so by statute next session,” Whitmire continued. “Death row inmates before execution should be fed the same meal as any other inmate on the unit the day of the scheduled execution.

“I hope that someone at TDCJ decides to use some good judgment.”

TDCJ Executive Director, Brad Livingston, released this statement regrading final meal requests.

"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."

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