Texas prison officials announced today that they would do away with the long-standing tradition of giving death-row inmates the chance to choose their last meal. Instead, they'll simply have to eat whatever comes out of the kitchen.
According to the Associated Press:
The controversy began after Lawrence Russell Brewer, who was executed on 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.
Brewer's actions prompted an a response from state Sen. John Whitmire, criticizing the last meal tradition. As a result, prison officials changed the policy.
According to AP, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice listed its prisoners' last meal requests until 2003, when they pulled the records because some people found the listings offensive. Governing found an archived version of the webpage that lists inmates' last meal requests from 1982 to September 2003. The most common requests are steak, chicken fried steak, cheeseburgers and Mexican food. Here are some of the others.
Inmate: John Baltazar
Crime: Baltazar and a co-defendant killed a five-year-old girl after kicking in the door of a Corpus Christi home.
Meal request: Cool Whip and cherries
Inmate: James Collier
Crime: Repeatedly shot two victims inside a Wichita Falls residence while reportedly trying to kidnap or murder his daughter. He was arrested after fleeing to New Mexico.
Meal request: Thirty jumbo shrimp, cocktail sauce, baked potato, French fries, ketchup, butter, one t-bone steak, one chocolate malt, one gallon of vanilla ice cream, and three cans of Big Red
Inmate: Gerald Mitchell
Crime: Mitchell offered to sell two men drugs but instead pulled out a sawed-off-shotgun, forced them to drive to a house, and shot both. One man survived.
Meal request: 1 bag of assorted Jolly Ranchers
Inmate: Miguel Richardson
Crime: Richardson was convicted of killing a security guard at a Holiday Inn in San Antonio.
Meal request: Chocolate birthday cake with "2/23/90" written on top, seven pink candles, one coconut, kiwi fruit juice, pineapple juice, one mango, grapes, lettuce, cottage cheese, peaches, one banana, one delicious apple, chef salad without meat and with thousand island dressing, fruit salad, cheese, and tomato slices
Inmate: Stacey Lawton
Crime: Killed a 44-year-old man with a shotgun during a burglary near Tyler.
Meal request: 1 jar of dill pickles
Inmate: Robert Madden
Crime: Shot/stabbed a father and son.
Meal request: Asked that final meal be provided to a homeless person
Inmate: Richard Beavers
Crime: Beavers abducted a couple from their apartment and forced them to withdraw money from area ATM machines before killing the man and raping the woman.
Meal request: Six pieces of french toast with syrup, jelly, butter, six barbecued spare ribs, six pieces of well burned bacon, four scrambled eggs, five well cooked sausage patties, french fries with catsup, three slices of cheese, two pieces of yellow cake with chocolate fudge icing, and four cartons of milk
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.