PUTNAM, Florida –
The Florida Department of Corrections offers death row inmates the option of requesting a final meal on the day of the scheduled execution. Guidelines specify that food items must be purchased locally, and the cost cannot exceed $40.
Del Berkley, convicted of homicide and armed robbery in 2008, asked prison officials for something they had never seen before. He wrote down “Unlimited Pasta Bowl” as his last meal, the first request of its kind. “I love me some Olive Garden,” Berkley said. The meal only costs $29.99 at the local restaurant.
“I wasn’t sure it was something we could accommodate,” said Prison Warden Raymond Jeffries. “If the meal was never-ending, then we would never be able to do the actual killing of the inmate. It was an odd request, but we are required by law to fulfill it.”
Manager of the local Olive Garden, Ken Fisher, says that he welcomes Berkley to enjoy their never-ending pasta dish, and says that they are “overjoyed” that he has chosen their restaurant as their last meal.
The last meal’s monetary cap mentions nothing about off-site meals. “That’s something we should have thought about, looking back on it,” said Warden Jeffries. “Then of course, there’s the issue of finding people willing to eat their meal next to a convicted criminal, and the fact that we’d have to do a headcount once an hour. We’ll figure it out.”
The request was submitted to Florida Governor Rick Scott, who convened a special meeting with officials from the Florida Department of Corrections, members of the American Civil Liberties Union, and family members of Berkley’s victim -convenience store owner Martin Fales – killed during the 2008 robbery.
It is precisely because of this reason that many correctional institutions have done away with the last meal request for death row prison inmates.