Texas recently did away with the traditional “last meal” for prisoners about to be executed after an inmate ordered quite a spread, then decided against eating it.
“Lawrence Russell Brewer ordered two chicken fried steaks smothered in gravy with sliced onions, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, a cheese omelet with other ingredients, a large bowl of fried okra with ketchup, three fajitas, a pint of Blue Bell ice cream and a pound of barbecue with a half-loaf of white bread.
“The meal request also included a slab of peanut butter fudge with crushed peanuts, a pizza and three root beers.
“Brewer declined to eat the last meal Wednesday, said Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark.”
The move pissed off Sen. John Whitmire, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, who spoke out against doing food runs for dying prisoners. On Thursday, Whitmire wrote “It is extremely inappropriate to give a person sentenced to death such a privilege. One which the perpetrator did not provide to their victim.” Following the legislator’s words, the executive director of the Department of Criminal Justice agreed to nix the final food request and now the walking dead will get the same food as other prisoners.
True for Brewer, as he was convicted for the 1998 dragging death of James Byrd. Brewer consistently maintained his innocence, insisting he was only a bystander and not a willing participant in the murder of Byrd. Most found his denial questionable considering Brewer’s alleged membership in a white supremacist organization.
Recent stories like the one above and Troy Davis always remind me of Anton Chekhov’s short story “The Bet,” which was written in 1889 but still relevant. In short, the plot revolves around two young, foolishly confident characters – a lawyer and a banker – and an argument involving the death penalty versus life in prison. The lawyer proves his point that “capital punishment is better than life imprisonment” by lasting fifteen years in solitary but suffering in irreversible ways and losing a key portion of his life.
In the story’s resolution, the lawyer ceremoniously turns down his winnings because he knows they won’t buy his lost years back and Brewer’s rejection of the lavish final meal seems like a f*ck you of the same caliber. Who wants a grandiose spread after eating bologna sandwiches and drinking soft peter for years? Better yet, who wants it when odds are they’ll just shart their pants once the electricity hits?