Last Suppers: How Do You Choose a Final Meal on Death Row?S

Yesterday Virginia executed 41-year-old Teresa Lewis. For her last meal, she requested "two fried chicken breasts, sweet peas with butter, a piece of German cake or apple pie for dessert, and a Dr. Pepper." What would you choose?

According to a story last year by Slate reporter Christopher Beam, condemned prisoners can more or less choose whatever they want for their last meal. Within reason, at least (no booze). Here are some examples:

The last meals of death row inmates are often quite memorable. Karla Faye Tucker requested a fruit plate but didn't eat it. John Wayne Gacy asked for shrimp, fried chicken, French fries, and a pound of strawberries. Timothy McVeigh ate two pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Instead of a last meal, Tennessee convict Philip Workman requested that pizza be distributed to the homeless in Nashville. (Prison officials denied his request, but local groups passed out pizza in his honor.) Before his execution in 2000, convicted rapist and murderer Odell Barnes requested a last meal of "Justice, Equality, World Peace." In 1992, Arkansas convict Ricky Ray Rector, who had brain damage from shooting himself in the head after killing a police officer, ate a final meal of steak, fried chicken, and cherry Kool-Aid, but famously said he wanted to save his pecan pie for later.

There are some pretty good choices in there. Wikipedia has a list, too, and you can maybe get a sense of what was going through the minds of the condemned before their execution. Or, more likely, and on a far less "deep" level, you can get an idea of what kind of crap they liked to eat. For example, there's Mark Dean Schwab, who was executed in Florida for killing an 11-year-old girl. He seemed to be going for a pre-execution heart attack after ordering "fried eggs (over easy), bacon, sausage links, hash browns, buttered toast, and a quart of chocolate milk." And there's Dobie Gillis Williams, who ate "twelve candy bars and some ice cream" and probably doubled over in pain on his way to receiving a lethal injection.

Talk about a tough decision. So you're sitting on death row, counting down your final hours. Do you go all out and request lobster tail and caviar, or go the traditional meat and potatoes route instead? How about surf and turf? Or do you say fuck it and eat 10 pounds of Skittles? What would you ask for?

[Image via James Reynolds, a photographer who recreated nine death row meals as part of an art exhibit.]

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