Final Project: Debate Paper
October 6, 2013
Should a Death Row Inmate be Granted a Last Meal
One of the most controversial debates today is regarding the ability for death row inmates to order a last meal before execution. What sparked the debate most recently is when a man named Lawrence Russell Brewer, a death row inmate housed in a Texas prison, ordered a meat lovers pizza, two chicken fried steaks with gravy and fried onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and jalapeños, a large bowl of fried okra and a side of ketchup, three fajitas, one pound of barbequed meat with a half of loaf of white bread, one triple patty cheeseburger, a pan of peanut butter fudge topped ...view middle of the document...
” The condemned are often sedated before execution. They are generally not allowed to listen to music, lest it induce an emotional reaction. Last words are sometimes delivered in writing, rather than spoken; if they are spoken, it might be to prison personnel rather than the witnesses. Still today, it is traditionally common for family and friends to share food for a visitation, funeral services and after, so when someone dies, is there a connection in food and death? With society now basically excluded from the execution process, much of the larger societal meaning of capital punishment, and last meals, has been lost.
For years, the public has been fascinated with death row inmates and their fate. Notorious murderers, serial killers, and con men have been in the news with their terrifying crimes reported. It is the morbid fascination the public has with when, where, and how these prisoners will die. As a courtesy, for many years to date, these prisoners are given the opportunity to order a “last meal.” Typically, these last meals contain comfort foods such as fried chicken, pizza, ice cream, and chocolate. Inmates have also been known to make simple requests such as a cup of tea, a cup of coffee, or toast and eggs. People whom are sympathizers, typically religious, feel that the last meal of a condemned man is important. Normally, the comfort foods ordered prior to execution is somewhat of a comfort to the individual. The meal has been allowed in most of the United States because it brings down the level of stress and negative excitement and anxiety of the inmate to a more manageable level for the executioners and public at large. One theory of granting the last meal is, the American citizens want to be more humane toward the person that is being prepared for execution. If this is so, was the crime they committed to get on death row, humane? After all, the American citizens have to distinguish the violence of its punishment from the punishing, so by allowing a last meal and a final statement, this shows a level of dignity and compassion are extended to the condemned that the inmate didn’t show their victims. Should the last meal be replaced with time for the inmate to have extra time to offer an apology to their victims or the victims’ family or to proclaim their innocence for the last time? The importance of the last meal stems from the Bible, and Jesus’s last meal. Jesus was to be crucified the next morning and was given an opportunity to have a last meal with his closest friends. We should also keep in mind that the Bible states that we are not to judge one another, so should we even be depriving a death row inmate from being granted a last meal? Many proponents of keeping the last meal request feel a sense of compassion and forgiveness toward the condemned. However, it seems these people are also NOT the family members of the victims that these killers left behind. Mostly, the people in favor of keeping this last request...