What 17 death-row inmates requested for their last meal

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

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.”

[slideshow]
[slide
permalink=”/#victor-feguer-28-years-old-iowa-kidnap-and-murder-death-by-lethal-injection-in-1963-1″
title=”Victor Feguer, 28 years old, Iowa — kidnap and murder, death by lethal injection in 1963″
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-in-1994-2″
title=”John Wayne Gacy, 52 years old, Illinois — rape and 33 counts of murder, death by lethal injection in 1994″
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5721316f52bcd063018bf79d/image.jpg”
source=”Henry Hargreaves”
caption=”12 fried shrimp, bucket of original recipe KFC, french fries, a pound of strawberries.”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#timothy-mcveigh-33-years-old-indiana-168-counts-of-murder-death-by-lethal-injection-in-2001-3″
title=”Timothy McVeigh, 33 years old, Indiana — 168 counts of murder, death by lethal injection in 2001″
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-in-1992-4″
title=”Ricky Ray Rector, 42 years old, Arkansas — two counts of murder, death by lethal injection in 1992″
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=”/#earl-forrest-66-years-old-missouri-triple-homicide-death-by-lethal-injection-in-2016-5″
title=”Earl Forrest, 66 years old, Missouri — triple homicide, death by lethal injection in 2016″
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/587559ecf10a9a1d008b7c0f/image.jpg”
source=”Henry Hargreaves/IMP Features”
caption=”Steak, pasta, fruit plate, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, chocolate cake and milk.”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#stephen-anderson-49-years-old-california-burglary-and-assault-escaped-prison-seven-counts-of-murder-death-by-lethal-injection-in-2002-6″
title=”Stephen Anderson, 49 years old, California — burglary and assault, escaped prison, seven counts of murder, death by lethal injection in 2002″
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-in-1989-7″
title=”Ted Bundy, 43 years old, Florida — rape, necrophilia, prison escape, 35+ counts of murder, death by electric chair in 1989″
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=”/#oscar-ray-bolin-jr-53-years-old-florida-three-counts-of-murder-death-by-lethal-injection-in-2016-8″
title=”Oscar Ray Bolin Jr., 53 years old, Florida — three counts of murder, death by lethal injection in 2016″
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/58764480f10a9a1d008b7d0b/image.jpg”
source=”Henry Hargreaves/IMP Features”
caption=”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.”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#steven-frederick-spears-54-years-old-georgia-murder-death-by-lethal-injection-in-2016-9″
title=”Steven Frederick Spears, 54 years old, Georgia — murder, death by lethal injection in 2016″
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/587559ecf10a9a273f8b5282/image.jpg”
source=”Henry Hargreaves/IMP Features”
caption=”A large meat pizza.”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#ngel-nieves-daz-55-years-old-florida-murder-kidnapping-robbery-death-by-lethal-injection-in-2006-10″
title=”Ángel Nieves Díaz, 55 years old, Florida — murder, kidnapping, robbery, death by lethal injection in 2006″
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-in-2010-11″
title=”Ronnie Lee Gardner, 49 years old, Utah — burglary, robbery, two counts of murder, death by firing squad in 2010″
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=”/#christopher-brooks-43-years-old-alabama-murder-and-rape-death-by-lethal-injection-in-2016-12″
title=”Christopher Brooks, 43 years old, Alabama — murder and rape, death by lethal injection in 2016″
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/587559ecf10a9a6c008b7b33/image.jpg”
source=”Henry Hargreaves/IMP Features”
caption=”Two peanut butter cups and a Dr. Pepper.”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#brandon-jones-72-years-old-georgia-murder-death-by-lethal-injection-in-2016-13″
title=”Brandon Jones, 72 years old, Georgia — murder, death by lethal injection in 2016″
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/58764480f10a9a29768b4b6c/image.jpg”
source=”Henry Hargreaves/IMP Features”
caption=”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.”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#allen-lee-tiny-davis-54-years-old-florida-robbery-and-three-counts-of-murder-death-by-electric-chair-in-1999-14″
title=”Allen Lee ‘Tiny’ Davis, 54 years old, Florida — robbery and three counts of murder, death by electric chair in 1999″
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5721317052bcd020008bf5e4/image.jpg”
source=”Henry Hargreaves”
caption=”Lobster tail, fried potatoes, half-pound of shrimp, six ounces of fried clams, half-loaf of garlic bread, 32-ounce A&W root beer.”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#teresa-lewis-41-years-old-virginia-murder-conspiracy-and-robbery-death-by-lethal-injection-in-2010-15″
title=”Teresa Lewis, 41 years old, Virginia — murder, conspiracy, and robbery, death by lethal injection in 2010″
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-in-1927-16″
title=”Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, 36 and 39 years old, Massachusetts — two counts of murder, death by electric chair in 1927″
content=”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.”
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-in-2013-17″
title=”Ronnie Threadgill, 40 years old, Texas — murder, death by lethal injection in 2013″
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]