Final meals

Why do we give people who are about to be executed a final meal? It seems like a waste of money to go out of are way to provide someone with a meal that they won’t have time to fully digest.

Just civility. It’s one of those “the least we can do” things. There is usually a ceiling on the meal- a fairly low one in fact. (In Alabama I think it’s $20, though if the family wants to bring in caterers with fresh lobsters and demi glace they would perhaps let them subject to reasonable regulations.)

It’s interesting that John Allen Muhammad specifically asked that the details of hislast meal not be made known. Makes me wonder if it was pork chops and liquor or something else forbidden by Islam.

Alcohol is normally banned anyway. In Virginia they’re only allowed to choose from the normal menu.

The point is to let them taste the food. Digesting it isn’t really important, seeing as how they are going to die in a few hours and don’t really need the nutrition.

Muhammad didn’t let the state of Virginia announce his last meal, but his lawyer told the press anyway:

So I think he was just refusing to participate in some of the odd rigmarole associated with being put to death. He also did not make a last statement before being executed. For all the other crazy things he did, I can understand that. It’s a little bizarre that we publicize the last meals of people who are being executed.

If you get down to it, most things we do are a waste of money. Why build roads when we could walk? Why feed school children real meals when we could just feed them gruel? Why have chairs in the waiting room of the DMV?

The last meal has a long history behind it. According to wikipedia the Greeks, Chinese and Romans all gave last meals (Jesus, IIRC, had a quite famous one.) According to the article, eating the last meal acted as a symbolic acceptance of the sentence. On a practical level, it made prisoners more likely to be compliant with the execution procedures.

If you’re referring to the Last Supper, that occurred prior to Jesus’s arrest. I don’t believe it’s specified how long he was detained between then and his execution; quite probably it was long enough for him to have been fed a few more times.

Well, symbolically and mythologically, the last supper plays an important role in our culture.

Of course. I’m just saying that the Last Supper isn’t a “final meal” in the sense used in this thread.

You are right about the typical booze ban for a final meal, but I could swear that I read (years back) that there is a state that allowed a condemmed man a single cold beer a couple of hours before he was taken down…

To the OP, how could we not give the condemned a last meal? If there weren’t a meal the day of the execution, then supper of the previous day would be the last meal instead, and so on. And it’d probably get just as much publicity associated with it.

OK, you just fucked with my perception of reality.

People are probably tired from walking to the DMV.

There will also be far fewer people waiting at the DMV in our new roadless society.