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

Screen Shot 2016 04 26 at 4.27.37 PMHenry HargreavesRicky Ray Rector’s last meal, as staged by 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.”

Victor Feguer, 28 years old, Iowa -- kidnap and murder, death by lethal injection

Henry Hargreaves
Single olive with the pit in it

John Wayne Gacy, 52 years old, Illinois -- rape and 33 counts of murder, death by lethal injection

Henry Hargreaves
12 fried shrimp, bucket of original recipe KFC, french fries, one pound of strawberries

Timothy McVeigh, 33 years old, Indiana -- 168 counts of murder, death by lethal injection

Henry Hargreaves
Two pints of mint and chocolate chip ice cream

Ricky Ray Rector, 42 years old, Arkansas -- two counts of murder, death by lethal injection

Henry Hargreaves
Steak, fried chicken, cherry Kool-Aid, pecan pie

Stephen Anderson, 49 years old, California -- burglary and assault, escaped prison, seven counts of murder, death by lethal injection

Henry Hargreaves
Two grilled cheese sandwiches, pint of cottage cheese, Hominy/corn mixture, peach pie, chocolate chip ice cream, radishes

Ted Bundy, 43 years old, Florida -- rape, necrophilia, prison escape, 35+ counts of murder, death by electric chair

Henry Hargreaves
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

Ángel Nieves Díaz, 55 years old, Florida -- murder, kidnapping, robbery, death by lethal injection

Henry Hargreaves
Declined a meal, was served the regular prison meal instead, but declined this also

Ronnie Lee Gardner, 49 years old, Utah -- burglary, robbery, two counts of murder, death by firing squad

Henry Hargreaves
Lobster tail, steak, apple pie, vanilla ice cream, eaten while watching the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy

Allen Lee 'Tiny' Davis, 54 years old, Florida -- robbery and three counts of murder, death by electric chair.

Henry Hargreaves
Lobster tail, fried potatoes, 1/2 lb. of shrimp, 6 oz. fried clams, half-loaf of garlic bread, 32 oz. A&W root beer

Teresa Lewis, 41 years old, Virginia -- murder, conspiracy, and robbery, death by lethal injection

Henry Hargreaves
Fried chicken, peas with butter, apple pie, Dr. Pepper

Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, 36 and 39 years old, Massachusetts -- two counts of murder, death by electric chair

Henry Hargreaves
Soup, meat, toast, tea.

In 1977, the governor of Massachusetts issued a statement saying that they had been unfairly tried and convicted. The case is still open.

Ronnie Threadgill, 40 years old, Texas -- murder, death by lethal injection

Henry Hargreaves
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.

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