Good Riddence to Lavish Last Meals for Convicted Murderers

James Byrd Jr.
James Byrd Jr.

It’s about time.  The Texas Department of Criminal Justice just outlawed its policy of offering a lavish last meal to death row inmates heading for the death chamber.  It’s strange that it took the complaints of one local politician to outlaw such a policy. Senator John Whitmire (D-Houston) said,

"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?"

Making a Joke of the System

And it took a convicted murderer’s embarrassing final request for the law to finally be changed. White supremacist Lawrence Russel Brewer killed James Byrd Jr. in a horrific hate crime in 1998. Brewer’s recent request for his last meal consisted of two chicken sandwiches, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, okra, a pound of barbeque, three fajitas, a pizza, a pint of ice cream and some fudge. Receiving the lavish meal, Brewer then proceeded to declare that he wasn’t hungry.

A Terrible Policy

It’s a wonder that this policy ever began. Who decided that convicted murderers, about to be killed on the tax payers’ dollar, deserve a lavish last meal?  Did James Byrd Jr. have such a choice before being attached to the back of a pickup truck and dragged to his death?

Whitmire, chairman of the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee, incensed after learning about Brewer’s abandoned meal, wrote to prison officials,

"Mr. Byrd didn't get to choose his last meal. The whole deal is so illogical."

Fortunately, the criminal justice commissioner for Texas, Brad Livingston, agreed with Whitmire and withdrew the last meal policy.  He announced this past week that,

"Effective immediately, no such accommodations will be made. They will receive the same meal served to other offenders on the unit."

Wouldn’t it be great if every state that has executions woke up and implemented this policy as well? Do tax dollars really need to be used to accommodate the cravings of convicted murderers?

Dan Kazan

Dan Kazan has had years of experience writing for some of the largest newspapers and magazines in the USA. He was one of the first pioneers in bringing the news online and has focused most of his recent energies into making Left Justified the high quality online news and opinion site which it is.Dan can be reached at dankazan(at)

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