Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dr. Seuss on the Loose—in Death Row

Visit your local bookstore and you'll find picture books that teach kids about sharing, and manners, and how to be "earth-friendly"--but where are the books about the dangers of becoming a murderer? Kids born with the "killer instinct" might be warned away from a life of crime if they learn about the pitfalls at a young age. With this in mind, we propose a series of educational crime-prevention books such as this one!

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Hallmark Moment for Paul Rhoades

Instead of ordering a special request for his last meal, convicted killer Paul Rhoades chose to eat the prison's "daily special" of hot dogs, sauerkraut, baked beans, veggie sticks with ranch dressing, and gelatin with fruit--although the prison chef did add strawberry ice cream as a special treat.

But here's the big surprise; in an unexpected gesture of convict camaraderie, the other death row inmates gave Rhoades a card which they had all signed. It made us wonder, though--what type of card would be appropriate for such an occasion? You can't exactly cross out "birthday" or "anniversary" and turn a standard card into an execution card.

The big greeting card companies might be losing sales by not producing cards for this unique niche market!

Here are two proposed designs. First, the sweet and sentimental card:

...and next, the funny, sarcastic card:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Guadalupe Esparza: No Morals, No Meal

Continuing the empty-stomach trend in Texas, convicted child killer Guadalupe Esparza ate nothing prior to his execution yesterday. Ever since Texas did away with special meal requests back in September, its condemned have chosen to meet the Grim Reaper with rumbling tummies instead of eating the "meal of the day" along with other inmates.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Oba Chandler Chooses Cheap Chow

Fans of our book already know that Florida serves one of the finest last meals in the USA. Prison cooks make a special trip to the grocery store, and the condemned can order whatever they want with a generous $40 spending limit. That means steak, lobster, shrimp, gourmet side dishes, fancy desserts...

Then why in the world did Oba Chandler, executed today for the triple rape/murder of a mother and her two daughters, order nothing but two salami sandwiches and one peanut butter and jelly sandwich, all washed down with a simple cup of coffee?

Was he afflicted with bland taste buds? A limited imagination? Or did some part of the phrase "You can order anything you want" cause his decision-making process to trip, stumble, and fall like an overweight clown slipping on a banana peel?

Only Oba knows...and he's not talking anymore.

Reginald Brooks Orders Old-School Last Meal

Those who follow last meals know that we've been in a lull lately; ever since Texas stripped away the special last meal privilege a few months ago, the condemned in all states have either been ordering small, bland, unmemorable last meals or simply refusing to eat anything at all.

Then along comes Reginald Brooks, sentenced to die for killing his own three sons. Before his execution in Ohio, Brooks ate a last meal of lasagna, garlic bread, beef jerky, chocolate cake, Moose Tracks ice cream, cashews, almonds, caramel candy, and root beer.

Yes, it looks like something a six-year-old might order. Yes, it's nutritionally lacking. Yes, it's heavy on the sugar. Yes, it's too much food in general. In other words, a fine example of a traditional death row last meal.

And in keeping with that "act like a six-year-old" theme, Brooks apparently spent his last few moments of life flipping off the execution witnesses and prison officials with a two-handed middle-finger salute. One report claims--and I kid you not--that Brooks's middle fingers remained extended even after he died.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Darth Vader, Superman, and Frank Garcia

Remember the end of Return of the Jedi when Darth Vader's mask comes off and we see that he's just a soft, puffy old man who looks about as scary as a moldy marshmallow?

Or that scene in Superman 2 where Superman--who gave up his powers so he could be with Lois Lane--gets the snot beat out of him by some goofy hick in a diner?

Well...the events on Texas's death row yesterday weren't exactly the same, but things still seemed mighty weird. Here was Frank Garcia, cop killer and multiple murderer, preparing to die without being allowed to order a special last meal.

Last meals and executions have gone hand-in-hand as long as anyone can remember, and Texas executes more inmates by far than any other state. So to see this grim ceremony performed without its last meal tradition was a bit strange. A bit unsettling. And, I must admit, a bit depressing.

Texas lawmakers gave special last meals the axe last month after one condemned man ordered a huge dinner then refused to eat even a bite of it. Now Texas inmates are given the same daily meal as all the other prisoners, with no option to make a special request.

Frank Garcia, the first man to be executed under the new regulation, decided to eat nothing at all.

Does the new rule make sense? Maybe. Do death row inmates deserve a special meal? Not really. But just like substituting tofu for a nice, thick, greasy hamburger, the process will take some time to get used to.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Culinary Collapse for Christopher Johnson

I wouldn't expect a man who once tried to commit suicide by eating toilet paper to possess a gourmet palate, and Christopher Johnson certainly didn't prove me wrong.

Convicted of killing his own six-month-old son, Johnson's last meal consisted of a turkey bologna sandwich with tomatoes and cheese, french fries, and an orange drink. A few hours later, Johnson enjoyed a pre-execution snack of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, pretzels, and Sunkist grape soda.

His last words were "Game over."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A New Way to Improve Death Row Service

We all agree that our capital punishment system needs some changes.  But instead of listening to pundits and lawmakers, why not solicit the opinions of those affected most directly--the Death Row inmates themselves?  We think comment cards like these should be placed in all execution chambers immediately!

Please Rate Your Execution Experience Using The Following Categories:


Excellent    5    4    3    2    1    Poor


Excellent    5    4    3    2    1    Poor


Excellent    5    4    3    2    1    Poor


Excellent    5    4    3    2    1    Poor


Excellent    5    4    3    2    1    Poor

Were you given adequate time to make a last statement?    YES    NO

Would you recommend our facility to a fellow convict?   YES    NO

If you receive a last-minute stay, would you choose our facility for your
next execution?


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Modest Meal for Manuel Valle

Convicted cop killer Manuel Valle broke a recent Death Row trend by actually ordering--and eating--a last meal prior to his execution tonight.

Three men executed in various parts of the country last week ate nothing at all, but Valle consumed a modest meal of fried chicken breast, white rice, garlic toast, peach cobbler, and a Coke.

Valle could have enjoyed a far richer meal; Florida allows its Death Row inmates to order almost anything they want, with a generous $40 spending limit.  Steak and lobster are served with a smile here--but since knives are a no-no, the steaks are cut into bite-sized pieces and then reassembled like a meaty jigsaw puzzle before they're presented to the condemned diner.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Lone Starved State: No Last Meals in Texas

Can it be true?  After decades of dishing out huge, meaty, deep-fried dinners, the state of Texas will no longer offer condemned inmates a special last meal prior to their execution.  Instead, they’ll be served the same food as everyone else that day.

The change of policy came one day after convicted killer Lawrence Brewer ordered an enormous multi-course last meal then refused to eat even a single bite of it.  Texas lawmakers decided that last meals for Death Row inmates are a waste of time and money.

To be honest, the Death Row in Texas was never a steak-and-lobster place; inmates could only order food available in the kitchen at the time, so choices were limited.  Cheeseburgers were the most popular item, along with pizza, Mexican food, and fried chicken.  With the exception of the mysteriously popular fried okra, vegetables were rarely requested.  Meals tended to be loaded with calories, stuffed with sodium, and dripping with grease.

But despite the lack of culinary finesse, it’s still hard to imagine Texas Death Row without its last meal program.  After all, executions and last meals go together like guns and bullets or breaking and entering.

I shall recognize the passing of this time-honored tradition in the most appropriate method; through the Japanese art of haiku.

Texas meals are gone;
The double-meat cheeseburger
Now cries ketchup tears

Derrick Mason Declines Last Meal

It's been a busy week for executioners---and a slow week for prison cooks.  Following the current trend, convicted killer and all-around scumbag Derrick Mason did not request a special last meal prior to his execution in Alabama yesterday.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lawrence Brewer: Wasted Life, Wasted Meal

It's rare for a Death Row inmate to order a large, extravagant meal then not touch it, but that's exactly what Lawrence Brewer did before he was executed in Texas yesterday.

Brewer's wasted feast included two chicken fried steaks smothered in gravy with sliced onions, a triple meat bacon cheeseburger with fixings on the side, a cheese omelet with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and jalapenos, a large bowl of fried okra with ketchup, one pound of barbecue with half a loaf of white bread, three fajitas with fixings, a meat lovers pizza, three root beers, one pint of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream, and a slab of peanut butter fudge with crushed peanuts.

Troy Davis Declines Last Meal

Troy Davis, the convicted cop killer whose case spawned an international media frenzy, was executed yesterday in Georgia.  Davis didn't order a special last meal, so he was served the prison's "Wednesday special" of a cheeseburger, baked beans, coleslaw, oven-browned potatoes, and a grape drink.  According to witnesses, Davis didn't eat any of it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Steven Woods Orders Meaty Meal

Steven Woods, executed yesterday in Texas, ordered a last meal heavy on the meat and heavy on the nitrates with nary a fruit or vegetable to be found---which is ironic, since Woods claimed to be a vegetarian!  Of course, he also claimed he didn't kill those two people, so...

Woods requested bacon; a large pizza with bacon, sausage, pepperoni, and hamburger; fried chicken breasts; chicken fried steak; hamburgers with bacon on French toast; garlic bread sticks; Mountain Dew, Pepsi, root beer, and sweet tea; and ice cream.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

On the Wait List: Steven Woods

Those busy busboys in Texas are now prepping a table for Steven Woods, slated to be executed tonight.

Woods--who describes himself as a punk rocker, anarchist, Christian, vegetarian, and someone who really likes dragons--has spent most of his time on Death Row complaining about the living conditions in his new home.  According to Woods, the Death Row cells are too small.  The food isn't served warm enough.  The guards call the inmates bad names, which hurts their feelings.  Oh, and there's no arts and crafts program, either.

It's a travesty; all you do is shoot two people to death and cut their throats, and for that you're forced to eat tepid food and you lose your right to make macaroni necklaces and paper bag hand puppets.

You know, a lot of the complaints from Woods--griping about the food, the name-calling, the arts and crafts program--sound like something you would hear from a grumpy preschooler.  And speaking of preschool, maybe Woods was absent the day his teacher explained that the terms "Death Row" and "Luxury Resort" are not synonymous.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Convict Cuisine: Jailhouse Chili

In addition to the last meals of executed criminals, our book also contains popular recipes from prisons across the country.

For those who have always wanted to sample prison food--but without the annoying jail term--here's one of the authentic recipes from our book.


25 pounds of coarsely-ground beef
1/2 pound of cumin
1/4 pound of chili powder
1 & 1/2 ounces of paprika
2 handfuls of crushed dried red chili peppers
1/2 pound of finely chopped garlic

Place all ingredients in a big pot, fill with water, and close the lid tight. Cook 15 minutes on high before stirring. Stir contents and allow them to simmer 30 to 40 more minutes.

Prison chefs supposedly never add more water during the cooking process, but will instead “correct the seasoning to desired strength.” This may require the addition of 2 handfuls of monosodium glutamate “for the desired taste balance.”

Serves roughly 100 people---assuming they survive the first bite!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

On the Wait List: Manuel Valle

Now here’s a conundrum for you. Convicted cop killer Manuel Valle is due to be executed on September 6th after spending 33 years on Death Row.  His lawyers recently fought for a stay of execution on the grounds that keeping Valle in jail for that length of time constituted cruel and unusual punishment. Yet those who oppose the death penalty argue that life in prison is a more humane gesture.

So let me get this straight: executing a killer is cruel…and keeping a killer in jail for a long time is also cruel…and executing a killer too soon—thereby depriving him of adequate time to go through the appeals process—would be considered cruel as well.

Obviously the only way to pacify the anti-death penalty crowd would be to give Valle a soft robe and some comfy bunny slippers, park him in a recliner in front of the TV, then feed him nachos and ice cream sundaes while bikini models fan him with palm fronds. And those folks wonder why no one takes them seriously…

Friday, August 19, 2011

Jerry Jackson Keeps His Last Meal Under Wraps

Jerry Jackson--executed yesterday for the brutal rape and murder of an 88-year-old woman--did order a special last meal, but opted to keep it a secret from the press.

Amazingly enough, the state of Virginia does allow this.  Each state has different rules regarding the last meal procedure; some allow inmates to order fast food or request a meal made from ingredients bought at local stores.  Others only honor requests for food available in the prison kitchen at the time.  In Virginia, the condemned person has to pick and choose from items on the prison's rotating 28-day menu, but it's also one of the few states that allow the inmate to keep his last meal a secret. (Yes, Virginia, there is a confidentiality clause)

Given the option, I think I'd rather have steak and lobster and broadcast my meal to the world rather than nibble on soggy fish sticks or mystery meat in private.    

Monday, August 15, 2011

On the Wait List: Jerry Jackson

Busboys at the Death Row Diner are now prepping a table for Jerry Jackson, scheduled to be executed in Virginia on August 18th.  Because of Virginia's stingy last meal rules, Jackson will only be allowed to choose food items from the prison's rotating 28-day menu---although any meal Jackson gets will be better than he deserves.

Jackson was convicted of raping and murdering an 88-year-old woman, and during his confession he claimed that he "liked older women."  Since Death Row inmates sometimes get TV privileges prior to their execution, I'd like to see the guards dangle a boxed set of Golden Girls DVDs in front of Jackson's nose and then snatch it away at the last minute.  It would serve him right.  Stay tuned for details about the final meal.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

No Last Meal for Martin Robles

Well, it's official; convicted murderer Martin Robles didn't eat anything at all before his execution yesterday.  A contact at the Texas Department of Corrections confirmed that not only did Robles not order a special meal--as was his right--but he also didn't eat the day's standard prison dinner.  No meal, no snacks, nothing.

Robles did make a final statement, but nobody understands it.  His last words were supposedly, "I love you, Israel," but why would a Latino gang member use his final statement to praise the Jewish homeland?  Maybe he was misunderstood, and actually said "Olive, you is real"--a grammatically incorrect shout out to Popeye's fictional girlfriend.  Or maybe the statement was "I love youth cereal"--a homage to Lucky Charms, Trix, and the other sugary breakfast foods Robles enjoyed as a child.

I'm just guessing here, because only Martin Robles knows what was actually said--and he's not talking.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

On the Wait List: Martin Robles

The next table at the Death Row Diner goes to Martin Robles, who is scheduled to be executed in Texas on August 10th.  Convicted of two gang-related murders, Robles at one point posted a bio of himself on a web site for inmates seeking pen pals.  He described himself as having "tattoos, bullet wounds, scars, and a pretty smile."  (Hint to other inmates; try leading with your best quality first!)

Among his hobbies, Robles listed drinking, fighting, and shooting dice.  He also claimed to love sex and the club scene, but since he's spent most of his adult life behind bars, I'm guessing that most of his---uh, "socializing"---has been with other inmates.  Check back in a few days for details on the last meal.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Andrew DeYoung Eats Next-To-Last Last Meal

Here's another question we're frequently asked; if an inmate gets a stay of execution after their last meal is served, do they get another last meal before the real execution?  It depends on the timing.  There have been many times when a person was served their last meal then waited weeks or months for their execution following a last-minute appeal.  In most of these cases, a second last meal was allowed.  Not so with Andrew Grant DeYoung, executed in Georgia a few days ago.  DeYoung ate his requested last meal--pizza, bread sticks, vanilla ice cream, strawberry preserves, and grape juice--but then his execution was delayed for 24 hours while various legalities were untangled.  Because the delay was so short, DeYoung wasn't allowed to order another last meal the following day, and he dined on the regular prison fare of chicken and rice, peas, turnip greens, cornbread, a brownie, and tea.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Can a Person Order Anthing They Want for Their Last Meal?

Without a doubt, this is the question we're asked most often.  And the answer is---it depends!  Most people don't realize that each state has its own set of rules regarding the last meal of executed criminals.  In Oklahoma, for example, the last meal must cost less than $15 and can only be ordered from local restaurants; no last meals are cooked in the prison kitchen.  Florida offers a more generous $40 limit, and the prison chef will shop for groceries then prepare the meal himself if the inmate doesn't want take-out.  In Texas, inmates can only choose from food available in the prison kitchen at the time.  And with a $50 spending limit, California seems to offer a very generous last meal---the only catch is, inmates are forced to eat it standing up, wearing only their underwear!  (California prison officials describe this as "eating picnic-style."  It makes us curious about the picnics they've attended.)  For more information, see the "Dining Guide" section of our book! 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Is this Texas or Okra-Homa?

The state of Texas recently executed convicted killer Humberto Leal Garcia, who ordered a last meal of fried chicken, tacos, fried okra, pico de gallo, and two Cokes.  While researching his case, I discovered that several other Texas inmates have also asked for okra in their final meals recently.  What's the deal with this?  Most inmates want food they haven't had in a long time (assuming their state allows it, which Texas doesn't---you can only ask for food that's available in the kitchen), or, at the very least, they throw caution to the wind and order every unhealthy, high-calorie, sugar-packed item on the menu.  The last meal is a time to gorge on triple cheeseburgers, and doughnuts, and French fries, and ice cream, not healthy green vegetables.  And okra isn't even one of those sexy vegetables like grilled eggplant, or butternut squash, or sleek stalks of asparagus drizzled with Hollandaise sauce.  So do the death row inmates in Texas know something I don't?  Do the local strains of okra contain pain-numbing properties?  Can a sturdy okra pod be fashioned into a makeshift key that opens cell doors?  Denizens of the fine state of Texas, I eagerly await your replies!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Casey Anthony Cancels Reservation at the Death Row Diner

The Death Row Diner now has one vacant seat after a jury found Casey Anthony not guilty yesterday.  Some would say that the prosecution just didn't have enough concrete evidence to secure a conviction.  On the other side, some would say that the basis for Anthony's defense was laughably ridiculous.  Others would remark that this jury must have been hand-picked from a group of intergalactic tourists who were visiting Earth on vacation and never expected to be given such an important job---despite their lack of familiarity with our planet's laws and customs.  No matter which side you're on, though, we'll all be left wondering what Casey Anthony might have ordered for her last meal if fate had dealt her the death penalty card. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

This Bible Obviously Never Went to Church

Yesterday, the state of Arizona executed Richard Bible for the murder of a 9-year-old girl.  Despite the fact that the girl's blood was found on his shirt, Bible never confessed to the horrible crime and maintained his innocence til the very end.  Perhaps because the execution took place at 11AM local time, Bible ordered a predictable last meal of fried eggs with melted cheese, gravy with sausage, hash brown potatoes, biscuits, grape jelly, peanut butter, and chocolate milk.

Despite his claim of innocence, Bible had a long history of committing violent crimes.  In other words, this is one Bible you would not want to find in your hotel room!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Blankenship Draws a Blank: No Last Meal Request

Some death row inmates never cease to disappoint me; in addition to committing a heinous crime, Roy Blankenship thumbed his nose at Last Suppers readers when he refused to order a special last meal prior to his recent execution in Georgia.  As if murdering a 78-year-old women wasn't bad enough, Blankenship added insult to injury by treating the entire last meal process with an air of disdain.  A note to all you Death Row newbies; instead of spending all your time writing appeals, meeting with sympathetic nuns, or staring vacantly at the walls of your cell, devote a little of your ample free time to creating a superb last meal menu!  Our readers will thank you for it!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Do Fries Come With That Lethal Injection?

On June 21, the state of Texas executed Milton Mathis for killing two people and injuring another during a drug-fueled shooting spree.  Mathis, a habitual drug user, was reportedly fond of something called "fry," which is marijuana soaked in embalming fluid and laced with PCP.  In an ironic twist of fate, Mathis carried his fry addiction with him to the grave---because his last meal before the execution included FRIED pork chops, FRIED chicken, FRIED fish, chili cheese FRIES, and regular FRIES.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Spread the Noose! Last Suppers Named a Top Father's Day Gift!

There's no better way to let dad know how special he is than to remind him that while he's spending Father's Day at a barbecue, or by the pool, or at the ball game, some less fortunate dads are stuck inside a cramped, dusty death row cell.  Reinforce that message with a copy of Last Suppers: Famous Final Meals from Death Row, recently named one of the best wacky Father's Day gifts by AOL Weird News!  It'll have him laughing harder than that tie you gave him last year, but for different reasons!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Table for Two, Execution-Style

Two inmates were executed in two different states today; Lee Taylor in Texas and Eddie Duvall Powell in Alabama.  Powell---obviously unclear on the last meal process---requested nothing special and merely snacked on sandwiches and corn chips bought from a vending machine.  Taylor made a better choice by ordering pizza, soft tacos, fried Jalapeno sticks, French fries, fried okra, and ice cream---although I still question the wisdom of combining a heavy, greasy, spicy side dish like fried Jalapenos with a sticky-sweet dairy dessert like ice cream.  After all, who wants a prison riot in their stomach when they're trying to get comfortable on the lethal injection table?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pondering the Future Contents of Casey Anthony's Stomach

With the prosecution about to rest in the Casey Anthony trial, I find myself wondering what Ms. Anthony might order for her last meal a few years down the road---assuming she's found guilty and given the death penalty, of course.  Ms. Anthony is fortunate to be sentenced in Florida, where convicted men and women are allowed a $40 spending limit on their last meal (other states are far less generous).  She may order food from a local restaurant, or the prison chef can buy ingredients from the grocery store then cook her meal in the prison kitchen.  Florida prison chefs are renowned for both their culinary skill and their attention to detail, so I'm certain the quality of Casey's last meal will be excellent.  Considering her determination to live the Bella Vita---"beautiful life"---Casey might choose a succulent lobster tail, or a juicy steak, or both.  She can request fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, and a tasty dessert.  Or will the notorious party girl choose something like chicken wings, French fries, and nachos---the type of pub-grub one would find at the local bar on the evening of a Hot Body competition?  Probably not.  I'm guessing Ms. Anthony will be too concerned about preserving her washboard stomach, even during her final moments.  Maybe she should slap a piece of duct tape over her own mouth and not eat anything at all...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Last Suppers: Famous Final Meals from Death Row Celebrates its 10th Anniversary

It's hard to believe it's been 10 years since our book first escaped---er, I mean, was released!  The world has changed a lot since then, but one thing hasn't changed a bit; the public still wants to know what death row inmates eat for their last meal prior to their execution.  The new version of Last Suppers is completely revised and updated for 2011, and is now available as an ebook!  You'll find it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Smashwords, but be forewarned; the authors are not responsible for any electronic devices that my be shorted out when readers drool over the tasty meals found in our book!