[Ed. – We can only hope gov’t grant money paid for this important research.]
More than any of the bizarre traditions in American history, the “special meal” served to a convicted felon just prior to execution has captured the imagination and curiosity of just about everyone from movie moguls to legal scholars to scientists.
There is a historical suggestion that the meal serves as a means of reconciliation between the murderer and the society that has extracted final revenge, perhaps even making the executioner feel more comfortable in his solitary role.
But a new study offers evidence that the last meal provides a last chance for a person who feels he or she has been unjustly condemned to show innocence.
Researchers Kevin M. Kniffin and Brian Wansink of Cornell University have looked at the last meals requested — or rejected — by 247 persons who were executed in the United States between 2002 and 2006 and found that those who maintained their innocence to the very end were far more likely to reject the meal than prisoners who had accepted their guilt.