Texas stops sharing death row inmate's final written statements

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice now says the agency will only publicly relay verbal statements made in the execution chamber.

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By Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas prison officials say the last written words of condemned inmates will no longer be shared publicly, marking another fresh change to execution day procedures in the nation's busiest death chamber.

The new policy Tuesday follows outrage by a state lawmaker who in 2011 also put a halt to Texas death row inmates choosing their final meals.

State Sen. John Whitmire had chastised prison officials for reading an avowed racist's final written statement after he was executed last week for the 1998 dragging death of James Byrd Jr., a black man.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice now says the agency will only publicly relay verbal statements made in the execution chamber.

Texas prison officials earlier this month also stopped allowing clergy in the death chamber.