Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
Ex-con Bruce Price is a principled guy. He spent a decade as a prison chef while serving time for assault. Many of those meals were for condemned men in the Texas penal system. We’ve recently discussed Texas’ knee-jerk abandonment of the Last Meal for condemned prisoners here on the blog. Seems Price was reading about it, too.
Price doesn’t think banning the last mean (oops, make the Freudian “meal”) of Death Row inmates is a good recipe for a compassion. He’s offered to purchase, prepare, and deliver the inmate’s last meal anywhere in Texas it’s requested.
“Texas has always been cold-hearted about these type of things,” said Price. “Not to minimize these crimes, the majority of them have earned their place at that dinner table. But with my offer it would not cost Texas taxpayers anything.”
Price’s conversion came after a graphic discussion with fellow inmate Manny Lopez who was tasked with cleaning up the death chamber after the sentence was meted out. Lopez described the most heart-wrenching thing was not cleaning the gurney of the deceased but seeing “the handprints, smeared lipstick, tear stains [on] the windows of the witness room where the man’s family was watching him die.”
Contrary to popular belief, one doesn’t necessarily lose their humanity at the prison gates. Price began to identify with the condemned and considered his reaction if those put to death were his family members. “I would just act like it was my brother who was going to be on that gurney, and then I would cook,” Price said.
The officials of the Great State of Texas are in a bureaucratic mood and are unmoved by the generous offer. “While we appreciate Mr. Price’s offer, it’s not the cost but more the concept that we’re moving away from,” said Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark.
“The concept”? Telling words if ever there were in any in that most scarlet of states. Seems only some traditions are honored in the Lone Star State.
By the way, Price has rehabilitated his life. He’s married and opening up his own business — a restaurant. He wrote about his experiences and the almost 200 meals he prepared in a book titled “Meals to Die For.”
Any thoughts on who’s the most civilized in this situation?
~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger