US & Canada

Texas jails abolish last meals after uneaten banquet

Lawrence Russell Brewer during his trial in 1999
Image caption Brewer was executed on Wednesday for a notorious hate-crime killing

Prison officials in the US state of Texas have abolished the traditional last meal request for inmates who are facing execution.

The move came after a prisoner requested a huge meal then did not eat any of it, saying he was not hungry.

Lawrence Russell Brewer was executed on Wednesday for the notorious hate-crime killing of James Byrd Jr in 1998.

The abolition followed a complaint by Texan Senator John Whitmire, who called the meal privilege "inappropriate".

Senator Whitmire, a Democrat and chairman of the state Senate Criminal Justice Committee, threatened to introduce legislation if the last meal offer was not withdrawn.

"Enough is enough," he said. "It is extremely inappropriate to give a person sentenced to death such a privilege. It's a privilege which the perpetrator did not provide to their victim."

Brad Livingston, executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, replied within hours, saying the tradition would be abolished.

Mr Livingston said the inmates would now "receive the same meal served to other offenders on the unit".

Brewer's massive order arrived at 16:00 on Wednesday but he told prison officials he was not hungry.

It included two chicken fried steaks, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, three fajitas, a meat lover's pizza, a pint of ice cream and peanut butter fudge.

Brewer, a white supremacist, was sentenced to death for a high-profile race crime, chaining James Byrd to a pick-up truck and dragging him along a road.

Most US states have a last meal tradition but differ in its implementation. Some have a menu, others, like Florida, impose a cost restriction.

Some requests have been unusual.

In 2007, Philip Workman asked for his vegetarian pizza to be given to a homeless person. The request was denied.

James Edward Smith's request for "a lump of dirt" in 1990 was also turned down.

In 2000, Odell Barnes asked for "justice, equality and world peace".

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