What 17 death-row inmates requested for their last meal

Henry Hargreaves/IMP FeaturesEarl Forrest’s last meal, as staged by photographer Henry Hargreaves.

This week, Dylann Roof was sentenced to death by a South Carolina jury for fatally shooting nine black church members during a Bible study session in 2015. Roof is the first person in American history ordered to be executed for a federal hate crime.

While the number of death sentences has dropped in the last 20 years, it’s still legal in 31 US states. In most 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 able to 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 … and found a public record [of the meals]. For the first time, these people became humanized,” he told Business Insider. His series “No Seconds” and “A Year of Killing” explore the inmates’ requested last meals through staged photographs.

“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 in 1963

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 in 1994

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

Timothy McVeigh, 33 years old, Indiana -- 168 counts of murder, death by lethal injection in 2001

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 in 1992

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

Earl Forrest, 66 years old, Missouri -- triple homicide, death by lethal injection in 2016

Henry Hargreaves/IMP Features
Steak, pasta, fruit plate, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, chocolate cake and milk.

Stephen Anderson, 49 years old, California -- burglary and assault, escaped prison, seven counts of murder, death by lethal injection in 2002

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 in 1989

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.

Oscar Ray Bolin Jr., 53 years old, Florida -- three counts of murder, death by lethal injection in 2016

Henry Hargreaves/IMP Features
Rib eye steak, medium rare; a baked potato with butter and sour cream; a salad made of iceberg lettuce, cucumber and tomato; baked garlic bread; lemon meringue pie; and a bottle of Coca-Cola.

Steven Frederick Spears, 54 years old, Georgia -- murder, death by lethal injection in 2016

Henry Hargreaves/IMP Features
A large meat pizza.

Ángel Nieves Díaz, 55 years old, Florida -- murder, kidnapping, robbery, death by lethal injection in 2006

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 in 2010

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

Christopher Brooks, 43 years old, Alabama -- murder and rape, death by lethal injection in 2016

Henry Hargreaves/IMP Features
Two peanut butter cups and a Dr. Pepper.

Brandon Jones, 72 years old, Georgia -- murder, death by lethal injection in 2016

Henry Hargreaves/IMP Features
Refused the option of choosing his final meal, so was given the standard-issue menu of chicken and rice, rutabagas, seasoned turnip greens, dry white beans, cornbread, bread pudding and fruit punch.

Allen Lee 'Tiny' Davis, 54 years old, Florida -- robbery and three counts of murder, death by electric chair in 1999

Henry Hargreaves
Lobster tail, fried potatoes, half-pound of shrimp, six ounces of fried clams, half-loaf of garlic bread, 32-ounce A&W root beer.

Teresa Lewis, 41 years old, Virginia -- murder, conspiracy, and robbery, death by lethal injection in 2010

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 in 1927

Henry Hargreaves
Soup, meat, toast, tea.

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

Ronnie Threadgill, 40 years old, Texas -- murder, death by lethal injection in 2013

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.

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.