Here’s what 12 death row inmates requested for their last meal

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Ricky Ray Rector’s last meal, as staged by Henry Hargreaves. Henry Hargreaves

In the 31 US states and various countries where the death penalty is legal, it’s customary to give sentenced prisoners a special last meal at their request. Restrictions do apply — for example, in Florida the final meal can only cost up to $40, and it must be prepared locally.

Food photographer Henry Hargreaves has never agreed with the practice of the death penalty, so when he heard in 2011 that Texas was abolishing the special last meal request for death row inmates, he became fascinated by the tradition.

“I dug into [researching] it, went a little deeper and found a public record [of the meals]. For the first time, these people became humanized,” he told Business Insider. “I thought it was really powerful that through food I was able to have an understanding of these people as real human beings.”

Since there’s never been a published photograph of an inmate’s last meal, Hargreaves shot the meals in various staged settings. “You don’t know if they’re being served on china plates, or plastic, or eating on their laps, or at a wooden table, so I tried to explore all these variations,” he said.

Although Hargreaves has his own opinions on the death penalty, he didn’t want to preach his beliefs with the work. “All I wanted was to make people have the conversation and be aware of it,” he said. “That’s the power of art; it [puts] a mirror up to the subject, and [viewers] can have a conversation amongst themselves and come to their own conclusions.”

[slideshow]
[slide
permalink=”/#victor-feguer-28-years-old-iowa–kidnap-and-murder-death-by-lethal-injection-1″
title=”Victor Feguer, 28 years old, Iowa — kidnap and murder, death by lethal injection”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5721316f52bcd024008bf71c/image.jpg”
source=”Henry Hargreaves”
caption=”Single olive with the pit in it”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#john-wayne-gacy-52-years-old-illinois–rape-and-33-counts-of-murder-death-by-lethal-injection-2″
title=”John Wayne Gacy, 52 years old, Illinois — rape and 33 counts of murder, death by lethal injection”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5721316f52bcd063018bf79d/image.jpg”
source=”Henry Hargreaves”
caption=”12 fried shrimp, bucket of original recipe KFC, french fries, one pound of strawberries”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#timothy-mcveigh-33-years-old-indiana–168-counts-of-murder-death-by-lethal-injection-3″
title=”Timothy McVeigh, 33 years old, Indiana — 168 counts of murder, death by lethal injection”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5721316f52bcd026008bf7ba/image.jpg”
source=”Henry Hargreaves”
caption=”Two pints of mint and chocolate chip ice cream”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#ricky-ray-rector-42-years-old-arkansas–two-counts-of-murder-death-by-lethal-injection-4″
title=”Ricky Ray Rector, 42 years old, Arkansas — two counts of murder, death by lethal injection”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5721316f52bcd01b008bf7de/image.jpg”
source=”Henry Hargreaves”
caption=”Steak, fried chicken, cherry Kool-Aid, pecan pie”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#stephen-anderson-49-years-old-california–burglary-and-assault-escaped-prison-seven-counts-of-murder-death-by-lethal-injection-5″
title=”Stephen Anderson, 49 years old, California — burglary and assault, escaped prison, seven counts of murder, death by lethal injection”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5721316f52bcd0210c8bf60d/image.jpg”
source=”Henry Hargreaves”
caption=”Two grilled cheese sandwiches, pint of cottage cheese, Hominy/corn mixture, peach pie, chocolate chip ice cream, radishes”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#ted-bundy-43-years-old-florida–rape-necrophilia-prison-escape-35-counts-of-murder-death-by-electric-chair-6″
title=”Ted Bundy, 43 years old, Florida — rape, necrophilia, prison escape, 35+ counts of murder, death by electric chair”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5721316f52bcd01f7b8bf283/image.jpg”
source=”Henry Hargreaves”
caption=”Declines a ‘special’ meal, so was given the traditional last meal: steak (medium rare), eggs (over easy), hash browns, toast with butter and jelly, milk, juice”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#ngel-nieves-daz-55-years-old-florida–murder-kidnapping-robbery-death-by-lethal-injection-7″
title=”Ángel Nieves Díaz, 55 years old, Florida — murder, kidnapping, robbery, death by lethal injection”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5721317052bcd066018bf756/image.jpg”
source=”Henry Hargreaves”
caption=”Declined a meal, was served the regular prison meal instead, but declined this also”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#ronnie-lee-gardner-49-years-old-utah–burglary-robbery-two-counts-of-murder-death-by-firing-squad-8″
title=”Ronnie Lee Gardner, 49 years old, Utah — burglary, robbery, two counts of murder, death by firing squad”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5721317052bcd01d7b8bf404/image.jpg”
source=”Henry Hargreaves”
caption=”Lobster tail, steak, apple pie, vanilla ice cream, eaten while watching the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#allen-lee-tiny-davis-54-years-old-florida–robbery-and-three-counts-of-murder-death-by-electric-chair-9″
title=”Allen Lee ‘Tiny’ Davis, 54 years old, Florida — robbery and three counts of murder, death by electric chair.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5721317052bcd020008bf5e4/image.jpg”
source=”Henry Hargreaves”
caption=”Lobster tail, fried potatoes, 1/2 lb. of shrimp, 6 oz. fried clams, half-loaf of garlic bread, 32 oz. A&W root beer”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#teresa-lewis-41-years-old-virginia–murder-conspiracy-and-robbery-death-by-lethal-injection-10″
title=”Teresa Lewis, 41 years old, Virginia — murder, conspiracy, and robbery, death by lethal injection”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5721317052bcd044008bf799/image.jpg”
source=”Henry Hargreaves”
caption=”Fried chicken, peas with butter, apple pie, Dr. Pepper”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#ferdinando-nicola-sacco-and-bartolomeo-vanzetti-36-and-39-years-old-massachusetts–two-counts-of-murder-death-by-electric-chair-11″
title=”Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, 36 and 39 years old, Massachusetts — two counts of murder, death by electric chair”
content=”In 1977, the governor of Massachusetts issued a statement saying that they had been unfairly tried and convicted. The case is still open.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5721317052bcd0210c8bf60e/image.jpg”
source=”Henry Hargreaves”
caption=”Soup, meat, toast, tea.”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#ronnie-threadgill-40-years-old-texas–murder-death-by-lethal-injection-12″
title=”Ronnie Threadgill, 40 years old, Texas — murder, death by lethal injection”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5721317052bcd0320c8bf651/image.jpg”
source=”Henry Hargreaves”
caption=”Baked chicken, mashed potatoes with country gravy, vegetables, sweet peas, bread, tea, water, punch. Texas abolished the ‘last meal’ in 2011, so he was given the same meal as everyone else in his unit.”
credit_href=””
]
[/slideshow]