A medium-rare rib-eye steak, a baked potato with butter and bitter cream, an iceberg lettuce salad, garlic bread, and lemon meringue pie for dessert. That was the final meal ordered up by serial killer Oscar Bolin proper earlier than the state of Florida executed him.
It’s customary in most states for death row inmates to ask for and obtain a particular final meal. Steak is a favourite request, as is Kentucky Fried Hen and meat lovers pizza. Historically, the condemned additionally will get to decide on a number of shut pals or family members to be current in the meanwhile they’re put to demise.
Now one inmate’s request for a selected witness, denied by the state of Texas, has resulted in a battle that has gone all the best way to the U.S. Supreme Courtroom. The case of John Henry Ramirez, 37, raises the query: How far should a state go to accommodate somebody who has brutally murdered one other?
In 2004, Ramirez fatally stabbed Pablo Castro, a Corpus Christi comfort retailer clerk, 29 instances throughout a rash of robberies he and two ladies carried out of their quest for drug cash. That theft netted simply $1.25. Ramirez disappeared into Mexico for a number of years however was finally caught and convicted of homicide. He’s now incarcerated in Livingston, Texas, and was scheduled to die there earlier this month.
Ramirez was befriended and transformed in jail by Baptist minister Dr. Dana Moore. Over time the 2 males turned spiritually linked. In April 2021, after the state of Texas spent some $200,000 combating varied inmates’ final request lawsuits and as Ramirez’s demise day neared, Texas lifted its yearslong ban on non secular advisor witnesses. Ramirez’s lawyer promptly knowledgeable the jail his shopper wished Moore to be his in-chamber witness on execution day. The jail agreed.
Then, final month, the lawyer upped the ante. He suggested the jail his shopper not solely wished Moore to be within the demise room, however he additionally wished him to be allowed to put arms on him and pray out loud over his inclined physique because the deadly injection was administered.
“It’s a part of my religion—there’s a lot in regards to the energy of contact,” Ramirez just lately advised a reporter. “You bless somebody on the time of their most non secular want.”
The jail put the brakes on that concept, arguing in courtroom that any direct bodily contact throughout an execution could be a safety danger and praying out loud could possibly be disruptive. One decrease courtroom decide sided with the state when she mentioned she had issues about whether or not “Ramirez’s change in place has been asserted to delay his execution.” The inmate and his lawyer keep the state is appearing out of spite and so they pushed the case to the U.S. Supreme Courtroom. The excessive courtroom plans a listening to on the problem in October or November.
This isn’t the primary time SCOTUS has dominated on an inmate’s final request for a spiritual advisor to be with them on the finish, and it absolutely gained’t be the final. However the different circumstances centered on prisons that gave preferential entry to Christian ministers over Muslim or Buddhist clerics. Prior to now the justices have been break up on fits that middle on spiritual liberty versus jail safety insurance policies. There’s no strategy to precisely predict how the courtroom may rule this time. Within the meantime, Ramirez lives.
At its core, the Ramirez case comes all the way down to the quantity of compassion the state ought to present for an individual who has dedicated the last word crime—homicide—or one other capital offense. Does such an individual deserve any type of particular remedy as they depart this world? Are we a greater society if we grant a convict extra empathy than she or he ever afforded others? Or ought to the biblical “eye for an eye fixed” mantra be adopted?
I’ve hung out inside a Texas demise chamber. It’s a chilling, sobering place. It appears to me if minister Moore have been to be allowed contained in the small room on execution day—even when required to remain nonetheless and silent—his very presence would convey solace to his condemned pal. Maybe that’s all Mr. Ramirez deserves. I ponder what my readers assume.
Views expressed on this article are the opinions of the writer and don’t essentially mirror the views of The Epoch Instances.