There’s been a ton of news today pouring out of death rows across America. I find myself shocked by how quickly this issue has come to the forefront of the media. Here’s a summary of today’s death row headlines:
First was the measure I detailed earlier put forth by a Democrat in the Florida House of Representatives that would abolish Florida’s death penalty. No doubt the bill will not be passed, but it’s interesting that it is being put forth now, on the heels of such a high-profile and contested execution.
Speaking of that execution, the execution of Troy Davis continues to resonate across the world. This article details some of the international responses, including the one below:
“The United States are a very democratic country, but these are barbaric practices,” commented Laurent Fabius, a prominent Socialist lawmaker and former French prime minister, speaking on Europe 1 radio.
It’s interesting to hear what other countries have to say about our legal system, especially when considering that most of the world does not have the death penalty and the ones that do are countries that the U.S. often admonishes for their human rights violations, such as Iraq, Iran and China.
In addition to the international outcry, much has been made in the states about the lack of any dissents attached to the Supreme Court’s one-sentence order denying a stay for Davis. This article does a nice job of explaining the Court’s approach to the case, and their general approach to the death penalty as a whole at this point.
In other execution news, there have been two more executions just this week, including one that was on the same night as Troy’s, but got much less coverage. Last night, 37-year-old Derrick Mason was executed in Alabama for the 1994 shooting death of a convenience store clerk., and before Davis’s execution in Georgia on Wednesday night, Texas executed Lawrence Russell Brewer, a white supremacist convicted for the infamous and horrific dragging death of James Byrd Jr., a black man from East Texas. There are a couple things interesting about Brewer’s case. First, the victim’s only son had spoken out to plead for Brewer’s life, asking that Brewer be shown the mercy his father was not. In an article for Reuters, Ross Byrd had this to say:
“Life in prison would have been fine. I know he can’t hurt my daddy anymore. I wish the state would take in mind that this isn’t what we want.”
Despite the victim’s son’s protests, Brewer was executed. But not before he reversed a time-honored tradition. Brewer placed his order for the traditional last meal, and it was a tremendous amount of food, including two chicken-fried steaks, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, a large bowl of fried okra, three fajitas, a pound of barbecue and a pint of ice cream. Reports of the exact meal differ, but it was certainly huge. Then Brewer went to the gurney without touching any of it, telling prison officials he wasn’t hungry.
The act infuriated state Senator John Whitmire, who wrote that “enough is enough.” Texas officials agreed and now a Texas inmate facing execution will be receiving the same meal as all other offenders. Anti-death penalty activists agreed with the move, citing the way in which an inmate’s last meal has turned into a sort of show.
Journalists have long documented an inmate’s last meal and several sites have sprung up that do the same, such as this one. One photographer has even done a series of last meal recreations, aptly titled “Last Suppers.”