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When prisoners commit a heinous crime of murder, especially when multiple lives are lost, the ultimate choice is to choose to end the criminal’s life. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
The practice of giving a last meal to a death row inmate dates back several centuries, starting in Europe. The belief was that if the inmate accepted their last meal, it meant that they made peace with their host and would not return as a ghost after death. The tradition has continued strongly, and the practice is still in the United States prison system. The inmate can request whatever they want for their last meal, within reason. It is that inmate’s last opportunity to gorge on their favorite foods, reminisce about their life, and hopefully make peace within themselves over their impending doom.
Today, there are a few prisons that have now ended their “last meal” tradition due to the inmates making large requests and then never eating the meal, much to the dismay of the prison staff. There have been many people who have protested the concept of the last meal, calling it a waste of taxpayer dollars. But the tradition still goes on all over the world. It is interesting to see what these hardened criminals choose as their last moment of food consumption that they will ever have in their lives. What it must be like for these people to eat what they know as their last meal is the subject of books and movies. We can never directly relate to the experience except for what we can watch from a distance.
You can a lot about a prisoner’s personality based on what they chose as their last meal. Some want to gorge on all of their favorite foods, while others want to recreate a favorite meal from their past like their wedding dinner or a home-cooked meal from their mother. But then there are other inmates who will be snarky and request things like “world peace” or a lump of dirt like James Edward Smith did (that request wasn’t obliged and he was given yogurt instead). And there are also inmates who will exercise their sweet tooth with ice cream, cakes, candy, and other variations of sweets. Or, you will have the inmates who will not even request a last meal and will sit in prayer and meditation as their execution comes closer with each tick of the clock.
One of the most infamous murderers, John Wayne Gacy, who had raped and killed 33 boys and young men, had a meal that was clearly reminiscent of his life. He managed three KFC restaurants in his life, and requested a bucket of original recipe KFC chicken, 12 pieces of fried shrimp, French fries, and a pound of strawberries. The meal was both indulgent and enjoyable it seems before he died the next day.
So what exactly have inmates requested for their last meals? Check out the video to find out. Some may make you laugh, make you confused, or just simply apathetic. As you watch, consider what meal you would want on your last evening alive.
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Lawrence Russell Brewer
John Wayne Gacy
Clarence Ray Allen
Robbie Lee Gardener
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