Federal prison officials in Indiana have told an animal protection group they cannot compel condemned Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh to have a vegetarian dinner for his last meal.
McVeigh is scheduled to be executed May 16 at the federal prison in Terre Haute for killing 168 men, women and children in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building.
He will be able to choose anything he wants "within reason," meatless or not, for his final meal, Harley Lappin, warden of the prison, told People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in a letter released by the group today.
The group had sent a letter to the warden earlier in the week asking that McVeigh not be allowed to "take even one more life" and be required to eat a meatless meal as his last one. Whether McVeigh has made any last meal request was not known.
"Nonviolence begins at the table," said the group.
Last Executed Man Ate an Olive
Lappin's reply said the Federal Bureau of Prisons was "sensitive to animal rights and the issues you raised have been carefully considered. The Bureau of Prisons provides inmates with alternative food options as their last meal prior to execution.
"Inmates are allowed to select, within reason, the food that is prepared provided it does not contain alcohol, tobacco or illegal substances," he added. "However, if they so chose, inmates may select meat."
The federal government has not carried out an execution since 1963, when Victor Feuger, convicted of a kidnap-murder, was hanged in Iowa. For his last meal Feuger chose an olive, with a pit, reportedly saying he hoped the tree that symbolizes peace would sprout from his grave.