A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

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A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby Ulc » Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:23 am UTC

http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Last-meal-requests-come-to-an-end-on-Texas-death-2184484.php

Spoiler:
Maybe it was the big bowl of fried okra with ketchup. Then again, it could have been the two chicken fried steaks smothered in gravy and onions or the cheese omelet with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, and bell and jalapeno peppers.

Something - maybe everything - about condemned killer Lawrence Russell Brewer's requested last meal left Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Whitmire with a nasty case of heartburn.

"It is extremely inappropriate to give a person sentenced to death such a privilege," sniffed Whitmire in a terse Thursday letter to prisons chief Brad Livingston. "I have yielded to TDCJ judgment in the past, but now enough is enough."

If Livingston did not pull the plug on the death-house tradition of customized last meals - thought to date back 87 years - Whitmire pledged to take matters into his own hands in the next legislative session.

Livingston promptly announced that, effective immediately, last meals will consist of whatever is on the menu for all prisoners at Huntsville's Walls Unit, home of the state death house.

Whitmire's letter, which came one day after Brewer was executed for the 1998 Jasper dragging murder of James Byrd Jr., brought immediate retorts from death-penalty opponents.

"I think it's sad that our elected and appointed leaders are wasting their time talking about menus on death row when we have important issues like potential innocence and the validity of the entire death-penalty system that desperately need to be looked at," said Elizabeth Stein, producer of KPFT-FM's Execution Watch.

Prison activist Ray Hill defended the last meals as a practice steeped in Texas history. Doing away with the tradition, he said, is "cruel and extremely unusual."

'Showing a little mercy'

Crockett restaurant owner and former death row "chef" Brian Price suggested the senator's complaints were grossly inflated because inmates rarely get extravagant meals they order.

"They only get items in the commissary kitchen," he said. "If they order lobster, they get a piece of frozen pollack. They quit serving steaks in 1994. If they order 100 tacos, they get two or three. … Whitmire's just getting on a political soapbox."

Price said he has prepared more than 200 last meals for condemned killers. He is author of the prison cookbook Meals to Die For.

Jim Willett, former Walls Unit warden and now director of the Texas Prison Museum, said allowing condemned inmates to order special last meals dates to at least 1924, when the state assumed responsibility for executions from counties.

The final meal has roots in pre-modern Europe, where executioners thought a fancy spread might quell the soon-to-be departed's ghost.

"We were just following that tradition," Willett said. "We were showing a little mercy."

A number of death-penalty states, including Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Virginia, follow the practice, usually setting guidelines for elaborateness of the meals and the costs.

In Louisiana, prisons spokeswoman Pam Laborde said, the warden at Angola traditionally joins the soon-to-be executed inmate in his last meal. On one occasion, the warden paid for an inmate's lobster dinner out of his own pocket.

In Texas, common requests include steaks, cheeseburgers and breakfast foods. Some inmates decline a final meal.

Brewer's requested meal, though, pushed the boundaries.

Didn't get sloppy Joes

In addition to the steaks, the omelet and fried okra, Brewer asked for a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, three fajitas, one pound of barbecue and a half loaf of white bread, pizza meat lover's special, one pint of "homemade vanilla" Blue Bell ice cream, one slab of peanut butter fudge with crushed peanuts and three root beers.

Whitmire's letter noted that the killer's victim was not accorded such lavishness.

He called Brewer's meal "ridiculous."

"Death-row inmates before execution should be fed the same meal as any other inmate on the unit the day of the scheduled execution," the Houston Democrat fumed. "… I hope that someone at TDCJ decides to use some good judgment."

On Brewer's execution day, Walls prisoners were fed sloppy Joes, navy beans, creamed corn and sliced bread.

Brewer ordered the over-the-top meal, prisons spokesman Jason Clark reported, but didn't eat a bite.

The food later was discarded.


Come on people. Seriously, if you're executing people, show a little decency and at least treat them like a person before you do so.

But I guess that wouldn't fit with the "MOAR PUNISH!!" crowd.

Edit: Distinct difference between "would" and "wouldn't"
Last edited by Ulc on Fri Sep 23, 2011 11:03 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby sourmìlk » Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:29 am UTC

I always predicted that, if I were a witness or a juror in a trial, I would so thoroughly annoy the judge that his sentence for being in contempt of court would be execution. This means that I've always looked forward to the last meal: lobster tail and a large, medium Filet Mignon, with a dessert of chocolate cheesecake. Now I'll actually have to work on my people skills.

But in all seriousness, what's the point of this? Do people really commit crimes thinking, on any level, consciously or subconsciously, "Well, I might be killed for this, but if I get a big free meal I suppose its worth it." Or is the $100 a year or so just too much for the budget? The externalities of pushing this bill and changing the law probably exceed any financial gain from not buying the food.
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby AvatarIII » Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:37 am UTC

To be honest, I am against execution, but it seems extremely mean to decline last meal requests, if the meals are getting overly extravagant, and then not even eaten, who cares! like sourmilk says it'll probably cost more to push this piece of legislation than the cost of these last meals, and I'm sure one expensive last meal is cheaper than the thousands of cheap meals they would get for the rest of their sentence had they got life instead of death penalty.

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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby Decker » Fri Sep 23, 2011 12:37 pm UTC

AvatarIII wrote:and I'm sure one expensive last meal is cheaper than the thousands of cheap meals they would get for the rest of their sentence had they got life instead of death penalty.

I'm all for last meals, but I've heard that a life sentence is usually a lot cheaper than death row anyway.
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby AvatarIII » Fri Sep 23, 2011 12:38 pm UTC

Decker wrote:
AvatarIII wrote:and I'm sure one expensive last meal is cheaper than the thousands of cheap meals they would get for the rest of their sentence had they got life instead of death penalty.

I'm all for last meals, but I've heard that a life sentence is usually a lot cheaper than death row anyway.


really? if that's true why execute anybody?

I find it hard to believe that a prisonful of prisoner's last meals would cost more than the cost to build, run and maintain an entire prison, with guards, for the length of a life sentence.
Last edited by AvatarIII on Fri Sep 23, 2011 12:45 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby Hawknc » Fri Sep 23, 2011 12:40 pm UTC

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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby yurell » Fri Sep 23, 2011 12:41 pm UTC

You know, when I read the title I thought someone was being witty, and that executions had been banned somewhere. If you are going to permanently end someone's existence, you could at least grant them a last meal within reason.
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby Belial » Fri Sep 23, 2011 12:51 pm UTC

AvatarIII wrote:really? if that's true why execute anybody?


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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby kiklion » Fri Sep 23, 2011 12:53 pm UTC

Eh, not like they are going to remember it for long. And the nutritional value won't do them much good. There are starving people in Africa and we are feeding our violent, murdering, assaulting, thieves! I think you fail to understand the amount of money this will save. We kill far more people than you may think. It reminds me of a bill that my county recently passed, they spent months arguing over the bill designed to keep people from attending the neighboring county's public college. They finally had agreed on a plan that would reduce the tuition of our county's school by about $34. Potentially thousands of people would have left our schools, to travel an extra hour every day they had classes in order to save those $34. By saving them those $34 we retained millions worth of tuition!

It's all about the law of large numbers...


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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby Decker » Fri Sep 23, 2011 12:54 pm UTC

AvatarIII wrote:really? if that's true why execute anybody?

I find it hard to believe that a prisonful of prisoner's last meals would cost more than the cost to build, run and maintain an entire prison, with guards, for the length of a life sentence.

In the words of Heath Ledger in Dark Knight, "It's not about money, it's about sending a message."
And most of the costs for someone on death row stem from:
1: The long appeals process. Going to court costs a good chunk of change.
2: The fact that many of them are on death row for 10-20 years anyway.
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby kiklion » Fri Sep 23, 2011 12:59 pm UTC

AvatarIII wrote:
Decker wrote:
AvatarIII wrote:and I'm sure one expensive last meal is cheaper than the thousands of cheap meals they would get for the rest of their sentence had they got life instead of death penalty.

I'm all for last meals, but I've heard that a life sentence is usually a lot cheaper than death row anyway.


really? if that's true why execute anybody?

I find it hard to believe that a prisonful of prisoner's last meals would cost more than the cost to build, run and maintain an entire prison, with guards, for the length of a life sentence.


Lawyers are expensive, death sentences have mandatory (or obligatory? the courts can't deny them it but they can choose to waive them) and you don't build and hire guards for a prisoner, you do it for hundreds. Then you get the state/federal government to compensate you to avoid NIMBY, while having the prisoners do some work that you can sell.

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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby ShootTheChicken » Fri Sep 23, 2011 1:01 pm UTC

The Article wrote:I think it's sad that our elected and appointed leaders are wasting their time talking about menus on death row when we have important issues like potential innocence and the validity of the entire death-penalty system that desperately need to be looked at


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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby Dauric » Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:00 pm UTC

This is just going from one extreme to another, any last meal no matter how ridiculous to none at all. Somewhere there's a rational medium where the to-be-executed starts ordering more than their own body-mass in food and the guard that's taking his order has to say "Sorry, can't do that ,you're to die from lethal injection, not exploding from one last wafer thin mint.
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby sourmìlk » Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:02 pm UTC

Dauric wrote:This is just going from one extreme to another, any last meal no matter how ridiculous to none at all.

How about "no more than X calories" where X is some number probably greater than 2500. Otherwise I'd just troll the jail by saying "I want one semi-truck full of zebra meat."
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby Decker » Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:05 pm UTC

Some states do have limits, I think. Stuff like no more than $40 worth of food, which is admittedly quite a lot for one meal.
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby sourmìlk » Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:06 pm UTC

Decker wrote:Some states do have limits, I think. Stuff like no more than $40 worth of food, which is admittedly quite a lot for one meal.


Not for a last meal. I could exceed that with a big, good steak. And for a last meal, I'd want a big, good steak, lobster tail, and a cheesecake.
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby Vaniver » Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:06 pm UTC

So, the Meals to Die For book is kind of sordid. (It's a list of ~200 criminals who were executed while this guy was cook, what they were convicted for, their last meal request, what they actually got, and their last words.)

That said, I don't see a problem with halting ghost appeasement traditions. (I do see a problem with continuing to execute people while it's more expensive than not executing them.)
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby Belial » Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:10 pm UTC

Dauric wrote:This is just going from one extreme to another, any last meal no matter how ridiculous to none at all. Somewhere there's a rational medium where the to-be-executed starts ordering more than their own body-mass in food and the guard that's taking his order has to say "Sorry, can't do that ,you're to die from lethal injection, not exploding from one last wafer thin mint.


The Article wrote:Crockett restaurant owner and former death row "chef" Brian Price suggested the senator's complaints were grossly inflated because inmates rarely get extravagant meals they order.

"They only get items in the commissary kitchen," he said. "If they order lobster, they get a piece of frozen pollack. They quit serving steaks in 1994. If they order 100 tacos, they get two or three. …
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby engr » Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:25 pm UTC

Can't remember the source, but I think the cost of last meal, at least in some states, is limited to $25 or so, which is why it is usually not an issue (especially considering how few offenders are actually being executed in the US).
I don't have a problem either way.

Edited: Never mind, Decker already mentioned that.
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby Jahoclave » Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:25 pm UTC

Well, considering this is a state that also considered charging inmates for their incarceration, I can't say I'm surprised by other surprised.

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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby Chen » Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:26 pm UTC

Decker wrote:In the words of Heath Ledger in Dark Knight, "It's not about money, it's about sending a message."
And most of the costs for someone on death row stem from:
1: The long appeals process. Going to court costs a good chunk of change.
2: The fact that many of them are on death row for 10-20 years anyway.


I'd imagine that keeping people for life in prison would be more expensive than execution if the same appeals process was applied to anyone who got sentenced to life. While I imagine there is some marginal cost to the actual execution bit, its the red tape around it that jacks up the price.

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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby Jahoclave » Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:38 pm UTC

You know, it's odd that they can't see the obvious cost saving measure of not locking people up for non-violent offenses. Clearly we shouldn't put so many people in... Oh wait... They have to have the prisoners first to take state handouts to their private prisons.

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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby Vaniver » Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:39 pm UTC

Chen wrote:I'd imagine that keeping people for life in prison would be more expensive than execution if the same appeals process was applied to anyone who got sentenced to life. While I imagine there is some marginal cost to the actual execution bit, its the red tape around it that jacks up the price.
This is correct.

Also interesting is that deterrence effects from the death penalty (relative to life in prison) may only exist if the death penalty is routinely given within a few years of conviction- typically, even if someone wants to be executed anti-execution groups will submit appeals on their behalf, and average time from conviction to execution is around 10 years.

So, the question of how to optimally structure the justice system is a complicated one that needs to take into account deterrence effects, cost, and false positives- our current one trades deterrence and cost to lower false positives, but doesn't seem to be doing so in an optimal way, and without any calculation of the tradeoffs involved.
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:40 pm UTC

Have any of you actually read the article? This is in response to a white-supremacist (Oooohisissssssss!) ordering the equivalent of an entire Thanksgiving dinner as his last meal, and not eating any of it. My guess is this law is to prevent such absurd requests in the future, not to deny death row inmates from getting to enjoy a final meal.

Read this one.
Spoiler:
The move came after universally-reviled white supremacist gang member Lawrence Brewer ordered up a particularly lavish feast before his execution Wednesday night. Brewer, 44, had been convicted for his role in a 1998 hate killing in which a 49-year-old black man, James Byrd, Jr., was chained by his ankles to a pickup truck and dragged for miles along an asphalt road. The killers dumped his decapitated body in front of an African-American cemetery in Jasper, Texas.

According to the Houston Chronicle: “Brewer ordered—but did not eat—a final meal of two chicken fried steaks, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, a cheese omelet, a large bowl of fried okra, three fajitas, a pint of Blue Bell ice cream, and a pound of barbecue with a half loaf of white bread.”

That was too much for state Sen. John Whitmire, the Houston Democrat who chairs the criminal justice committee. He wrote a letter to the state’s criminal justice chief, Brad Livingston, decrying the “extremely inappropriate” privilege, “one which the perpetrator did not provide to their victim,” the Houston Press reported. "I am asking you to end this practice immediately or I am prepared to do so by statute next session," Whitmire added.

Livingston didn’t hesitate. Within hours, he fired off a statement via email: “Effective immediately, no such accommodations will be made. They will receive the same meal served to other offenders on the unit.”
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby Belial » Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:42 pm UTC

Chen wrote:
Decker wrote:In the words of Heath Ledger in Dark Knight, "It's not about money, it's about sending a message."
And most of the costs for someone on death row stem from:
1: The long appeals process. Going to court costs a good chunk of change.
2: The fact that many of them are on death row for 10-20 years anyway.


I'd imagine that keeping people for life in prison would be more expensive than execution if the same appeals process was applied to anyone who got sentenced to life. While I imagine there is some marginal cost to the actual execution bit, its the red tape around it that jacks up the price.


The extra care is due to the fact that one is nonrefundable: if we sentence someone to life in prison, and then discover they're innocent, we can give them at least part of their life back (inadequate though that may be).

If we kill them, somewhat less so.
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby podbaydoor » Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:43 pm UTC

Didn't the article also say that the prison doesn't go to extravagant lengths to fulfill the requests so the prisoner got an approximation out of the prison kitchen anyway?
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby Decker » Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:47 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Have any of you actually read the article? This is in response to a white-supremacist (Oooohisissssssss!) ordering the equivalent of an entire Thanksgiving dinner as his last meal, and not eating any of it. My guess is this law is to prevent such absurd requests in the future, not to deny death row inmates from getting to enjoy a final meal.

Read this one.
Spoiler:
The move came after universally-reviled white supremacist gang member Lawrence Brewer ordered up a particularly lavish feast before his execution Wednesday night. Brewer, 44, had been convicted for his role in a 1998 hate killing in which a 49-year-old black man, James Byrd, Jr., was chained by his ankles to a pickup truck and dragged for miles along an asphalt road. The killers dumped his decapitated body in front of an African-American cemetery in Jasper, Texas.

According to the Houston Chronicle: “Brewer ordered—but did not eat—a final meal of two chicken fried steaks, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, a cheese omelet, a large bowl of fried okra, three fajitas, a pint of Blue Bell ice cream, and a pound of barbecue with a half loaf of white bread.”

That was too much for state Sen. John Whitmire, the Houston Democrat who chairs the criminal justice committee. He wrote a letter to the state’s criminal justice chief, Brad Livingston, decrying the “extremely inappropriate” privilege, “one which the perpetrator did not provide to their victim,” the Houston Press reported. "I am asking you to end this practice immediately or I am prepared to do so by statute next session," Whitmire added.

Livingston didn’t hesitate. Within hours, he fired off a statement via email: “Effective immediately, no such accommodations will be made. They will receive the same meal served to other offenders on the unit.”


I did read it. It sounds like the guy pulled some stunt and it pissed off some Senator and now he wants to take away last meals for ALL prisoners.

Livingston didn’t hesitate. Within hours, he fired off a statement via email: “Effective immediately, no such accommodations will be made. They will receive the same meal served to other offenders on the unit.”


Also, he didn't eat it. So what? The state lost, like, $40 in food so the guy could troll the government one last time. Let him. He's going to be dead soon anyway. He got his last meal, if he didn't want to eat it, oh well, moving on.
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:53 pm UTC

Decker wrote:Also, he didn't eat it. So what? The state lost, like, $40 in food so the guy could troll the government one last time. Let him. He's going to be dead soon anyway. He got his last meal, if he didn't want to eat it, oh well, moving on.

For starters, I'm not sure that this means no death row inmates will get ANY requests, I think it means their requests for outlandish things won't be met. Which is highly subjective, and I could be wrong anyway.
But for seconds, I think the idea is that these people are supposed to be receiving justice, and last meals and last words are traditional accommodations we make for those we are about to put to death/murder in the name of justice. It's akin to a cigarette and a blindfold for someone at a firing squad, and isn't meant to be a lavish outlandish royal carpet equivalent. I know most people here are against capital punishment, and are going to be arguing out of that stance, but as I see it, this is more an issue of drawing an admittedly arbitrary line and saying 'We will provide you with a last meal, we will not ship in rare delicacies from around the world'.
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby Decker » Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:55 pm UTC

Since when is fried okra, chicken fried steak, ice cream, fajitas, or an omelet a rare delicacy?
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby Chen » Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:56 pm UTC

Belial wrote:The extra care is due to the fact that one is nonrefundable: if we sentence someone to life in prison, and then discover they're innocent, we can give them at least part of their life back (inadequate though that may be).

If we kill them, somewhat less so.


Indeed. Frankly the death penalty only seems appropriate in situations where you are certain someone cannot be rehabilitated. Even in those cases, it seems more efficient to simply force that person to work at giving SOMETHING back to society rather than forcing society to support them in perpetuity. I'm sure even if we could find work for all the prisoners people would just complain they were "stealing jobs" from the rest of the people who couldn't find work.

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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby ShootTheChicken » Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:57 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:For starters, I'm not sure that this means no death row inmates will get ANY requests, I think it means their requests for outlandish things won't be met. Which is highly subjective, and I could be wrong anyway.


In the same article, and in this thread, it's already been said that 'outlandish' requests don't get met, for example they can't get lobster, that rare delicacy shipped from around the world the coast. So I don't know how else to read it other than they're cutting off all last meal requests.
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:59 pm UTC

Decker wrote:Since when is fried okra, chicken fried steak, ice cream, fajitas, or an omelet a rare delicacy?


It's not, I think the issue is taken with the notion that some prisoners are ordering absurd amounts of food as a final 'fuck you' to the system. I rather admire Troy Davis for fasting through his last meal.
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby yurell » Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:00 pm UTC

I think as far as last meals go, "here's $50, go nuts" is a perfectly reasonable approach to the matter. After all, you're saving on catering and accommodation for the next n years.
That said, I don't believe that there should be a need for final meals, but I'm not sure that this thread is supposed to turn into a giant debate about the death penalty.
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby Dauric » Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:01 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Have any of you actually read the article?


Did you?

Livingston didn’t hesitate. Within hours, he fired off a statement via email: “Effective immediately, no such accommodations will be made. They will receive the same meal served to other offenders on the unit.


Note the underlined. That means their last meal is the same meal they would have gotten if they weren't to be executed. That is a complete removal of the "Last Meal" privilege, not a targeted legislation restricting absurd abuses.

Someone at the jail breaches a reasonable request limitation once, and the esteemed state senator gets his panties in a twist and removes Last Meal privileges in their entirety as though this was a chronic/systemic issue with death penalty cases, rather than deal with the one-off stupidity directly. If there had been a pattern of abuses (which does not seem to be the case given statements from the retired prison cook) then sure pull it in all cases until the system can be reformed, but making a system-wide change because of a single incident is stupidity.
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby ShootTheChicken » Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:03 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Decker wrote:Since when is fried okra, chicken fried steak, ice cream, fajitas, or an omelet a rare delicacy?


It's not, I think the issue is taken with the notion that some prisoners are ordering absurd amounts of food as a final 'fuck you' to the system. I rather admire Troy Davis for fasting through his last meal.


Hah, so lawmakers are annoyed that prisoners are pissed that the lawmakers are going to kill them?

How dreadfully unreasonable.
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby Decker » Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:05 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Decker wrote:Since when is fried okra, chicken fried steak, ice cream, fajitas, or an omelet a rare delicacy?


It's not, I think the issue is taken with the notion that some prisoners are ordering absurd amounts of food as a final 'fuck you' to the system.

And I say let them have it. It's a pretty weak "Fuck You" anyway.
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:20 pm UTC

Decker wrote:And I say let them have it.

I'm inclined to agree with you. Given that the article said most inmates don't get the truly exorbitant requests, I think it's sort of silly to deny them these last spiteful middle fingers held high.
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby Tirian » Fri Sep 23, 2011 4:51 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Have any of you actually read the article? This is in response to a white-supremacist (Oooohisissssssss!) ordering the equivalent of an entire Thanksgiving dinner as his last meal, and not eating any of it. My guess is this law is to prevent such absurd requests in the future, not to deny death row inmates from getting to enjoy a final meal.

Read this one.
Spoiler:
The move came after universally-reviled white supremacist gang member Lawrence Brewer ordered up a particularly lavish feast before his execution Wednesday night. Brewer, 44, had been convicted for his role in a 1998 hate killing in which a 49-year-old black man, James Byrd, Jr., was chained by his ankles to a pickup truck and dragged for miles along an asphalt road. The killers dumped his decapitated body in front of an African-American cemetery in Jasper, Texas.

According to the Houston Chronicle: “Brewer ordered—but did not eat—a final meal of two chicken fried steaks, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, a cheese omelet, a large bowl of fried okra, three fajitas, a pint of Blue Bell ice cream, and a pound of barbecue with a half loaf of white bread.”

That was too much for state Sen. John Whitmire, the Houston Democrat who chairs the criminal justice committee. He wrote a letter to the state’s criminal justice chief, Brad Livingston, decrying the “extremely inappropriate” privilege, “one which the perpetrator did not provide to their victim,” the Houston Press reported. "I am asking you to end this practice immediately or I am prepared to do so by statute next session," Whitmire added.

Livingston didn’t hesitate. Within hours, he fired off a statement via email: “Effective immediately, no such accommodations will be made. They will receive the same meal served to other offenders on the unit.”


I read it. Who cares? If we're going to start smugly playing the "that's more compassion than his victims got" card in earnest, then we are no better than the sociopathic premeditated murderers -- except in might. Through the entire ritual of execution, I think it's important FOR US to have at least one phase where we risk an excess of goodwill, if only to remind the condemned of the pleasure of being able to choose their meals every day.

I'll grant you that it's a stretch to interpret a last meal to come on a fully loaded buffet table. But for the love of Christ, if you can't afford a steak for a man who will never eat again because of your will, then look around for someone with sufficient charity to pay for it on your behalf.

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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Sep 23, 2011 5:22 pm UTC

Tirian wrote:I'll grant you that it's a stretch to interpret a last meal to come on a fully loaded buffet table. But for the love of Christ, if you can't afford a steak for a man who will never eat again because of your will, then look around for someone with sufficient charity to pay for it on your behalf.

I don't think the issue is whether or not to provide them a nice juicy steak for their final meal. I think it's whether or not to provide them a juicy steak, a 10 pound burrito, a quintiple decker cheeseburger, a pound of fresh strawberries, a gallon of chocolate milkshake, a tub of icecream and every variety of beer a local microbrew offers.
Tirian wrote:then we are no better than the sociopathic premeditated murderers -- except in might.

This is the 'pro or anti-capital punishment' argument, and I would not say it is the same. There's a difference between treating a prisoner to the fullest of their human rights, and the above mentioned meal. I am not violating any one's basic human rights to deny them that buffet.
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Re: A decent meal before execution? No more of that!

Postby Dauric » Fri Sep 23, 2011 5:28 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Tirian wrote:I'll grant you that it's a stretch to interpret a last meal to come on a fully loaded buffet table. But for the love of Christ, if you can't afford a steak for a man who will never eat again because of your will, then look around for someone with sufficient charity to pay for it on your behalf.

I don't think the issue is whether or not to provide them a nice juicy steak for their final meal. I think it's whether or not to provide them a juicy steak, a 10 pound burrito, a quintiple decker cheeseburger, a pound of fresh strawberries, a gallon of chocolate milkshake, a tub of icecream and every variety of beer a local microbrew offers.
Tirian wrote:then we are no better than the sociopathic premeditated murderers -- except in might.

This is the 'pro or anti-capital punishment' argument, and I would not say it is the same. There's a difference between treating a prisoner to the fullest of their human rights, and the above mentioned meal. I am not violating any one's basic human rights to deny them that buffet.


Texas Senator John Whitmire is the one denying them -any- special meal, mayhap Tirian's comment is directed at the esteemed senator rather than you, Izawlgood. I think you've been pretty clear through the whole thread that you're against the extravagant wastefulness of this particular incident and not against "Last Meal" tradition in general.
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