No Last Meals On Texas Death Row

“All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” —Ronald Reagan

In a Nutshell

Despite executing nearly five times as many prisoners as any other state in America, Texas does not offer a customary last meal to a condemned prisoner. The practice was abolished in 2011 when Lawrence Russell Brewer, a murderous criminal, ordered an exorbitant feast and then refused to touch a bite of it.

The Whole Bushel

There is no issue more controversial than that of capital punishment, described by some as the ultimate justice and by others as primitive, even blasphemous. Only a handful of countries on Earth still subject condemned prisoners to death, and the vast majority of these countries rank dismally in human rights abuses (countries like China, North Korea, and Iran). In the United States, the death penalty is largely handled on a state-by-state basis. Texas is by far the most lethal state to be a death row prisoner in. There, 503 prisoners have been executed since 1976 (Virginia and Oklahoma rank second and third, with 110 and 105 executions respectively).

Perhaps the most sacred tradition of capital punishment is that of providing the condemned a final meal of his choosing. This is an ancient custom, designed to make peace with the prisoner and prevent his ghost from exacting vengeance. And although Texas has executed 56 people since 2010, they no longer offer a last meal. The tradition ended in 2011, courtesy of Lawrence Russell Brewer.

Brewer was a white supremacist who, along with two cohorts, chained African-American James Byrd to the back of a pickup truck and dragged him to his death along an asphalt road in Jasper, Texas—it was a gruesome passing that doesn’t need to be rehashed in detail. When it was over, the three men dumped what was left of Byrd’s body in front of an African-American cemetery, then went to a barbecue. When asked if he had any regrets for what he’d done, Brewer said “as far as any regrets, no, I have no regrets. No, I’d do it all over again, to tell you the truth.” He was sentenced to die for his crimes.

Although the vicious hate crime made national headlines, Brewer’s greatest infamy was in his last meal. Brewer ordered up a massive repast consisting of chicken-fried steak, fried okra, peanut butter fudge, steak, fajitas, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, meat lover’s pizza, and ice cream, among other items—then refused to eat any of it. Brewer’s crash diet sparked a nerve with state lawmakers, and the policy of providing a last meal request to death row inmates was halted.

Show Me The Proof

Lawrence Russell Brewer executed in 1998 dragging death
Last-meal requests come to an end on Texas death row
The Last Last Meal

  • sunshine12345

    Who cares. I think it’s great they took last minute meals away. Inmates on death row that truly committed a hate crime or any crime that results in the death penalty should not be allowed to waste the tax payers money…period.That should have been money in the victim’s family’s pocket to help for any debt or funeral cost. And I’m sure he continplated this whole sceem since he was evicted. What a waste of a person! Another life could have been created, and we’re stuck with somethinglower than scum.Texas did the right thing. Long Horns!

    • QuotationStation

      If you truly are basing this on monetary cost, you should be against the death penalty in the first place. It costs far more to execute a prisoner than it does to sentence them to life in prison, and most would attest that it is the greater punishment as well.
      On the other hand, if your intention is to be inhumane and spiteful, you may carry on with your ancient ideology.

      • gillybean

        Perhaps if we didn’t have to hang around for appeals and the inevitable media dissection it wouldn’t cost so much? Say, if you know a person is definitely guilty of a crime that gets you death, instead of hanging around, do it the day after the sentencing. Don’t mean to sound callous but I truly believe that there are some people that shouldn’t have the privilege of walking amongst the rest of us.

        • QuotationStation

          Oh yes of course, and they don’t walk amongst the rest of us when they serve life in prison, they walk amongst other prisoners.
          I understand your stance, and there are some truly evil people that force me to have an internal debate on the prospect of execution, but overall I do not believe it to really ever be justifiable.

          • gillybean

            I understand people’s objections, I even agree with some of those arguments, I just also happen to think that there are certain acts that can never be made right.
            There was a guy where I grew up who beat a woman to death with a hammer. She was the owner of a local take-away and he used to bully her and her family/staff whenever he was bored. The police cautioned him several times for harassing them. One night, full of drugs and alcohol, he went in, found the lady alone, jumped the counter and threatened to bite her nose of if she didn’t empty the till. When she tried to stand up and call for her husband, the guy hit her in the head with a hammer. 6 times. He was 17 years old. The whole episode was caught on CCTV. For some bizarre reason, this man was released from prison after 3years. He has since been back to jail twice. Surely a bullet would be cheaper and kinder all round.

          • sunshine12345

            holla! I agree 100%

      • sunshine12345

        r Tisk Tisk. I thought you would have came up with something better than that. If you truly believe that it cost less to execute than sentence…then you really are gullible. First off, prior to a sentence you have the prosecutor and defence team. Majority of murderers can’t afford their defence so where do you think this money comes from? Oh, ans by the way the in cases like this the prosecution is appointed by the state…who pays for this again? And by the way… they charge by the hour. Oh yeah, then there’s the jury who get paid after so many days, transporting the prisoner to and from cell. And lord help is if they need to he watched Then they have to eat oh yeah… will they request o

        • QuotationStation

          Your reply about how I am wrong about it costing less to serve life in prison than it does to execute seems to be missing, but I came here to reply to it. First of all, bringing lawyers into it makes no sense, someone serving life in prison and someone sentenced to death are provided with lawyers just the same… So I really don’t know where you’re going with that. Second of all, cost of meals is negligible… Long story short, I provided proof for my stance, then you disputed it with nothing more than “you’re wrong because I think you’re wrong,” which really makes having any form of discussion with you entirely pointless.

  • inconspicuous detective

    take it or leave it. they haven’t earned it but if you’d like to, give them one. otherwise…get on with it.

  • Exiled Phoenix

    What a punk. They should’ve kicked him in the nuts and ate his food in front of him while he lay crying in pain. I would’ve if I’d have been his guard.

    • LOL I don’t agree in the death penalty either, but “that right there was funny. I don’t care who you are.”

  • Hillyard

    Give them a T-ration or an MRE. A T-rat ( the ones I remember) might be considered cruel and unusual punishment though.

  • rhijulbec

    Used to be the condemned were led out of the court room and executed right there and then. I’m not in favour of that tactic but, if it is proven the person did it, why the years and years of free legal council? Canada no longer has the death penalty, mores the pity sometimes, so the years and years of appeals make no sense. If there is doubt, then yes, try to prove it, but if no doubts..needle in the arm in 90 days. Just enough time to settle affairs.

  • TheUnknownTruth

    While I agree with the law that list of food he compiled was pretty good and def made me hungry and remind me of the movie Half Baked.

  • Heywood Jablowme

    Why kill a guy with such a good imagination? Why not let him write movie plots?

    • anonymouse72

      Name of movie: The Last Supper

  • hrg2

    The death penalty is rather worthless. It has no effect on crime rates. It has a higher costs compared to life in prison and it does not help to bring closure to most families. Couple that with the number of people that have been proven innocent after they have been put to death or released from prison after being proven innocent and you have a valid argument against the death penalty. The odds of executing an innocent person are too high for me to find any justification in killing a person on death row. I believe that the penal system in the US needs to be changed. A higher focus on rehabilitation instead of warehousing inmates. The country would be better served if inmates were given mandatory education, drug rehab and job training. It would also be helpful to give indeterminate sentences to most people. This will help to assure that the prisoner was being given the help he or she needs to integrate back into society safely and will have the opportunity to become a useful member of society and not a detriment. An inmate would have to prove they have the skill set and tools to function in the world before they are released. They will have to learn to read and write at a high school level. Attend job skills training and learn a trade. If they are identified as drug addicts or alcoholics they will need to prove they have taken the classes to remain clean and sober. I also believe that after release they should be housed in halfway houses that they are required to pay for. They will be required to look for employment and take a any job they can perform that pays a fair wage. If the inmate is involved in gang activity they should not be allowed to parole to the county they were arrested in.
    Murderers should be given life sentences in facilities that reward good behaviour and punish bad behaviour. Things like TV and canteen should be privileges that can be effectively taken from inmates who violate minor rules, forced to pay fines like one would if they got a speeding ticket. Rewards should be small and have next to no cost to the state. Things like the ability to purchase food from a for-profit joint on the prison grounds.
    Sex offenders should be given the same treatment with the exception that they will have to voluntarily submit to physical castration before they would be considered for release. They will also be monitored for the remainder of their lives and be forced to pay for any monitoring that the parole officer deems necessary including GPS tracking devices, financial monitoring, vehicle tracking and the like.
    The idea is to create less crime not by making prison a pure punishment but a place where the inmate is formed into a person who wants to be a good person and who can be. I believe that this will help everyone in the long run. The small time criminals go into the system now and come out knowing all sorts of new tricks on how to commit crimes and how to get away with them. They are upgraded criminals. A rehab based facility would help them become normal members of the community. Sex offenders would be reduced to eunuchs and not have the physical urges to rape or abuse.
    Is this doable? Yes. The problem is that we, as a whole want to see them punished and because we can not punish them by putting them in prison for life we have to let them out at some point. They have not learned anything positive and have met new connections.

    • izim1

      You’re part of the problem with humanity. Tell that to all the parents of children that were abducted, raped, tortured and murdered by someone who had already gone to jail for a sexual crime. You can’t rehabilitate a rabid dog. You put it down. Plain and simple. The problem is not enough capital punishment. I’ve managed to make it through life, just like the majority of the human population, without murdering or raping. People that can’t accomplish that simple task don’t deserve to be alive. Wether or not they’re “sick” or “mentally challenged” is irrelevant. The fact is that those people weigh down the human race and everyone on the planet is better off without them here using up our resources. Guilty without a doubt? Take them out back and kill them in the worst way possible. no mercy sleep meds. I bet you all the “sick” people will start thinking twice about it.

      • hrg2

        No, it is people like you that are the problem. It is people like you that give republicans a bad name. It is people like you that need to be put down like rabid dogs. Perhaps then the world will get better. Please kill yourself and your children before they pollute the gene pool even more.

        • chunk

          Yea. I can just imagine what a heaven this place would be without people like him on the planet…: “oh you brutally tortured and killed people? It’s ok little buddy. We’re going to get you some help”..” oh you didn’t again huh? Our bad. We didn’t help you well enough. Lets try it again. If not we can just keep you here and feed and protect you the rest of your life..” yea. That’s the world I want to live in. Full of criminals and people who enable them. Because nothing makes a criminal think twice about commiting a crime like knowing there’s no one around to do what needs to be done and dish out real punishment.

          • hrg2

            It is not about getting people like the guy in the article help, it is about rehab compared to warehousing. Chuck, do you honestly think the current system works? The recidivism rate in the US is upwards of 80%. That is not working. The “real punishment” you speak of has already proven to be of no use and no deterrent to criminals. I am not talking about setting people who deserve life in prison free. I am talking about keeping petty criminals from becoming major criminals. I get the impression that you would rather see public hangings and cutting off the hands of thieves. That will never fly with the courts or most of the public. izim1 wants to see torture and rapid executions. The death penalty does nothing to reduce crime. We have three choices. Keep the current system in place and try to find another way to get the crime rate down. Go the extreme way and become a third world country that kills petty criminals and locks away inmates for x period of time in an environment that turns the guy who stole a car into a guy that cooks meth and has no problem killing to keep his secret. The third option is to find a way to keep the small time crooks from becoming major criminals. I guess you did not read my first post. I am not some bleeding heart liberal. I just believe that there is a better way to make the world better. Right now the prison system in the US does nothing more than keep the criminals locked up until their release. There is nothing done to help make sure they do not reoffend. If you have a better idea, one that will be accepted by the public and the courts, I would very much would like to hear it. My idea, though rough is one that I believe could work.

        • Michilino

          You should NEVER tell someone to kill themselves, for any reason, but especially if it is just because you do not agree with their opinion. This shows a profound lack of respect for other people and completely nullifies your first statement, (which I will say I was warming toward).

          You have shown yourself to be a hypocrite.

        • Timone

          How about nobody is out down like a rabid dog. Becausepeople aren’t dogs, to the original poster, I agree with you in that I do not support the death penalty, but neither do I believe our most dangerous criminals should be treated as guests and given privileges such as telivision that many Americans are not lucky enough to have in the first place.

          • Timone

            My touch screen is being screwy and not letting me edit so here goes *people aren’t dogs.* period to replace the comma.

    • Heywood Jablowme

      Show me the proof that it costs more than life in prison. Liberal Retard.

      • hrg2

        First, I am not a Liberal and never have been. You are a fool for making such broad statements. You asked for proof so here you go. I used California as an example but feel free to use any other state with the death penlity.

        Assessment of Costs by Judge Arthur Alarcon and Prof. Paula Mitchell (2011, updated 2012)

        The authors concluded that the cost of the death penalty in California has totaled over $4 billion since 1978:

        $1.94 billion–Pre-Trial and Trial Costs

        $925 million–Automatic Appeals and State Habeas Corpus Petitions

        $775 million–Federal Habeas Corpus Appeals

        $1 billion–Costs of Incarceration

        The authors calculated that, if the Governor commuted the sentences of those remaining on death row to life without parole, it would result in an immediate savings of $170 million per year, with a savings of $5 billion over the next 20 years.

        • Heywood Jablowme

          From the California Legislative Analyst’s Office: it costs $47,102 per year to house 1 inmate. There are 167,000 people in prison in California. That equals $8,054,442,000 a year. That’s trillion with a T. Going with your 1978 bullshit, that equals about 282 trillion dollars. But if according to your liberal math we can save 5 billion over 20 years. Go vote for Obama again jackass

          • hrg2

            you are an idiot. You also suck at math.

          • Heywood Jablowme

            Ok Saul Alinski. Call me names and insult me. BTW, my math is not flawed.

          • hrg2

            You are an idiot. The math is not from 1978 it is from 2011 and 2012. The report I cited only refers to Death Row. You took that to apply to every inmate in the CDCR. That is why your math sucks. You attempted to apply the same factors to every inmate in California. That is why you are an idiot. Just for your information You started with the name calling by implying I am a liberal and an Obama supporter. I am neither. Just FYI. It is spelled Alinsky.

      • Supbro

        No shit, was thinking that before. How exactly is removing a criminal from the equation more expensive than taking up a cell for life, organising rehab and all the other expenses?
        Dumbass imo

  • Unfirth McChuggin

    Every condemned prisoner’s last meal should be his own penis.

  • Ican Aja

    Rumah dijual di Pondok Cabe Used to be the condemned were led out of the court room and executed
    right there and then. I’m not in favour of that tactic but, if it is
    proven the person did it, why the years and years of free legal council?
    Canada no longer has the death penalty