Because killing them just isn't enough

Because killing them just isn't enough

by digby

How long before they devolve all the way back to the bad old days. I'm sure they could dredge up some throwback legal experts to say "the United States doesn't do cruel and unusual punishment":

The Texas prison system abolished on Thursday the time-honored tradition of offering an opulent last meal to condemned inmates before their executions, saying they will get standard prison fare instead.

"Enough is enough," state Senator John Whitmire wrote in a letter on Thursday to prison officials, prompting the move. "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."

The letter was in apparent response to the dinner requested, but not eaten, by white supremacist Lawrence Brewer before he was put to death on Wednesday night for the 1998 dragging death of James Byrd Jr.

Brewer requested an elaborate meal that included a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, a meat-lover's pizza, a big bowl of okra with ketchup, a pound of barbecue, a half a loaf of bread, peanut butter fudge, a pint of ice cream and two chicken-fried steaks.

When it arrived around 4 p.m. at Brewer's cell, he declined it all, telling prison officials he wasn't hungry.

Whitmire, who chairs the Texas Senate Committee on Criminal Justice, threatened legislation if the prison system didn't put an end to the practice, which rarely results in the inmate getting exactly what is requested anyway.

But a new law won't be necessary. Brad Livingston, executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, replied that Whitmire's concerns were valid and that the practice would halt immediately.

The prisoners will be served "the same meal served to other offenders," Livingston's statement said.

The idea of giving the prisoner a last meal of his choice is a nod to his humanity, acknowledging a little bit of basic compassion for him as a fellow human being, however guilty he may be. And when you lose that it's a very short trip to the kind of killing spectacles we don't see anymore in so-called advanced democracies.

But then capital punishment leads to barbarity in any case. If you've ever stood outside a prison when an execution is scheduled, you'll almost always see total strangers hanging around, singing and joking --- and cheering when the death is announced. It's not personal. They just enjoy it. This primitive impulse still resides in a whole lot of people.