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       October 16, 2011 9:37 AM

 The Last Supper


Death row inmates are customarily granted a final request before being executed: Their choice of a  last meal. On September 14, 2011, Laurence Russell Brewer (mugshot at right) was scheduled to die in a Texas prison.

He ordered quite a last meal. 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.

Brewer, a white supremacist, had been convicted of a particularly heinous crime. More than a decade earlier in 1998, he had chained a black man, James Byrd Jr., 49, to the back of his pickup and dragged him several miles down a bumpy road to his death.

Prison guards wheeled a cart containing his last meal to his cell. But Brewer ate none of it. Despite the protestors demonstrating outside the prison, he was executed.

The topic of weird orders for last meals is not new. A former prison inmate wrote a book about the 200 or so meals he had to cook for condemned men: Meals To Die For.

A few weeks earlier another Texas inmate had requested a last meal of two pounds of bacon, a large four-meat pizza, four fried chicken breasts, two drinks each of Mountain Dew, Pepsi, root beer and sweet tea, two pints of ice cream, two hamburgers with fries and a dozen garlic bread sticks with marinara on the side. How much he ate is up for debate. The execution was not. Two hours later he was dead.

After the execution, Brewer's food request came to the attention of State Senator John Whitmire, chair of the state Senate's criminal justice committee. Outraged, he fired off a letter to Brad Livingston, director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Whitmire wrote: "It is extremely inappropriate to give a person sentenced to death such a privilege."

Livingston agreed. Within hours, he issued an order regarding the "last meal requests" of prisoners scheduled for execution. "Effective immediately, no such accommodations will be made. They will receive the same meal served to other offenders on the unit."

Texas officials oversee the country's busiest death chamber, and Brewer's request was not the most bizarre among the 475 inmates put to death in Texas. Until now, they could request whatever "last meal" they wanted." Not anymore. Thanks to State Senator John Whitmore, Texas has served its final "last meal" to death row inmates. Referring to Brewer's victim, Whitmore said: "Mr. Byrd didn't get to choose his last meal."

This post is my contribution to Blog Action Day October 16, 2011. This year it coincides with World Food Day. Please spread the word about my post: The official  Blog Action Day tag is #BAD11

Prior to Thanksgiving, I'll team up with a Bed & Breakfast to do a book-signing/charity event to raise money for their food pantry. If you're an author, perhaps you could do a similar event. In any case, please consider donating to your local food pantry. There are a lot of hungry people out there.

Which brings me back to the topic of my post, and the questions it raises.

With all the starving people in the world, do you think death row inmates should be allowed to choose their last meal? And what about the death penalty?

Do you believe people convicted of certain crimes should be put to death by the government? Or are you against the death penalty? Do you believe that some of those who have been convicted and put to death might have been innocent? Please leave a comment!

And have a good supper.


 Sources: USA Today, 9-23-2011

www.cbsnews.com  "No more final meals for Texas death row inmates"

www.cnn   "Texas drops special last meal for death row inmates"  9-22-2011

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[ Posted by Sandra McLeod Humphrey, October 16, 2011 12:16 PM ]
     Another unique blog post and "Meals To Die For" would probably be an extraordinary read! Frankly, I've never understood why Death Row prisoners were ever given the "Last Meal" privilege in the first place. Speaking of food, we're very active with our local ICA Food Shelf and you just don't realize how widespread the food problem is till you see how many people come through the lines every day and are so grateful for our help. Love your blog and I'll be back!

[ Posted by RDougWicker.com, October 16, 2011 1:03 PM ]
     I used to be pro-death penalty, but over time I've come to realize that there are just far too many mistakes being made—both inadvertent (on the part of the defense) and maliciously (in the case of DAs seeking reelection) to put people to death with 100% certainty that they committed the crime. You can always pardon a live person, but dead is forever.

As for the last meal request—that's a tradition I hate to see go away. Yeah, the guy may be a scumbag, and yeah, his victim didn't get the same luxury, but come on . . . they guy's about to be put to death.

If there were rampant abuse, sure, take a look at it. But end this over one or two inmates who went out with attitude? Sorry. That's just not right. Especially as that much order should never have been filled by the authorities anyway. The inmate should have been made to pare it down to a reasonable and realistic amount of food. Shame on the people who ordered that amount thinking any normal person could ever consume it all.

[ Posted by admin, October 16, 2011 5:37 PM ]
     Thanks for your comment, Doug. I agree with your stance on the death penalty. If a mistake is made, you can't fix it. However, I tend to agree with the Texas senator on the last meal issue. The victims didn't get a chance to choose their last meal.

[ Posted by admin, October 16, 2011 5:39 PM ]
     Thanks for the comment, Sandra. And I agree, the hunger in this country is so very often hidden. And with the economy the way it is, things appear to be getting worse. Keep up the good work ... and come back often!

[ Posted by Rosanne Dingli, October 16, 2011 8:36 PM ]
     I do not agree with the death penalty, and we don't have it over here in Australia. I think the last execution for a heinous crime happened in the early 1960s.

I do, however, find it hard to link an extravagant last supper with world hunger. It's a stretch to attribute the cause of politically-fueled famines to one dinner plate. It's like telling a child to eat their spinach because there are starving children in Africa. One has little to do with the other. If a child eats the spinach, the children in Africa do not benefit in the least ... nor do they become hungrier if the child doesn't. Kids see this lack of reason early, but they lose it by the time they have children of their own.
The causes of most famines (whether within an otherwise thriving metropolis or elsewhere) are largely political. Perhaps it's the politicians and movers and shakers, and financial wheelers and dealers, who should be made to do without their suppers.

[ Posted by Deborah/TheBookishDame, October 17, 2011 2:20 AM ]
     Thanks for this insightful post. I had no idea so much food was wasted like that you gave examples of. Such a shame that so much food was allowed to be ordered. Such a waste when children in our country are hungry. I agree with the Senator on this one. As to capital punishment: in younger years I was for it. Now, I'm against it simply because I believe in redemption, and the hope that medicine can cure a lot of insanity that causes heinous crimes.

[ Posted by Rhonda Lane, October 17, 2011 7:48 AM ]
     I'd always heard about the tradition of "the last meal," let alone the visit from the religious order of the convict's choice.

I doubt the condemned would have given their victims the luxury of a confession or the comfort of another religious person, either.

Very thoughtful post for #BAD11.

[ Posted by admin, October 17, 2011 8:51 AM ]
     Thanks for the comment, Rosanne. I'm not actually trying to relate this incident with world hunger and famines ... okay, I guess that's mentioned in the post ... but rather that many children here in the U.S., supposedly the richest country in the world, DO go to bed hungry, go to school hungry, etc.

posted by SUSAN FLEET   October 16, 2011 9:37 AM  Something Different! 


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