in Houston, Texas
Convicted killer’s feast tops $66 by our (unscientific) estimate; state of Texas ends last meal tradition for death-row inmates
Friday, Sep 23, 2011, 01:00PM CST
By Mark Lisheron

Apparently, state Sen. John Whitmire did not share Lawrence Russell Brewer’s, shall we say, gurney humor about his last meal.

An infuriated Whitmire, D-Houston, the longtime chairman of the Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee, threatened to have a law passed ending the grim tradition of a last meal for prisoners about to be executed after learning about Brewer’s order, according to a New York Times story.

Brewer, convicted in the notorious dragging death of James Byrd Jr. in 1998 in Jasper, died by lethal injection Wednesday in Huntsville, but not before trying to “make a mockery out of the process,” Whitmire said.

Whitmire might have been right. Prison officials said Brewer never ate his feast.

“Why in the world are you going to treat him like a celebrity two hours before you execute him?” Whitmire told the Times. “It’s wrong to treat a vicious murderer in this fashion. Let him eat the same meal on the chow line as the others.”

Prison officials said Brewer’s request was made two weeks in advance, allowing cooks time to prepare in-house. The cost of the meal was beside the point, it was the principle, Whitmire said.

We don’t know the cost of the principle, but Brewer’s meal would have cost us $66.02 in Huntsville, give or take a dining choice, a grocery store sale and not counting gas.

The two chicken fried steaks, with the cup of okra Brewer ordered, are $9.50 each at the Farmhouse Cafe. The one pound of barbecued meat and white bread would have cost $10.49 at McKenzie’s BBQ.

The meat lover’s pizza at Pizza Hut is $10 with a coupon; the three fajitas $9.99 at Margarita’s Restaurant; and the ground beef-and-cheese omelet, $7.45 at Daisy’s Diner.

Follow that with a triple-patty bacon cheeseburger at Whataburger for $4.89 and a pint of Blue Bell ice cream, $1 a pint on sale at Berkshire’s, and wash that down with three Barq’s root beers for $1.25.

The piece of peanut butter fudge Brewer wanted was $1.95, but you’d have to go to Big Little Fudge in Montgomery, 30 miles away.

Prison officials will not have to worry about those extra costs any more. Brad Livingston, executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said no new law was necessary. He ended the last meal tradition, effective immediately.

“I believe Senator Whitmire’s concerns regarding the practice of allowing death row offenders to choose their last meal are valid,” Livingston said.
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of fajita by flickr user joshbousel, used via a Creative Commons license.
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