For some strange reason there’s few things more intriguing than death row. Perhaps it’s something about the warped minds of the inhabitants or the impending doom that characterizes their existence; whatever the reason, it’s a theme regularly explored in documentaries and TV shows.
Food photographer Henry Hargreaves has never agreed with the practice of the death penalty, so when he heard that Texas was abolishing the special last-meal request for death-row inmates, he became fascinated by the tradition. That’s when he decided to dig into last meals and the thinking behind their choices.
He compiled his research into a fascinating photo series that you can see below:
1. Henry says: “When I first came across all the requests, I found it to be such a fascinating insight into the minds of these soon-to-be executed individuals.”
2. “As I read the requests, I began to imagine these prisoners as people and not just numbers. The story became much more real in my mind and I wanted to represent this visually.”
3. “Our culinary choices often say something about us that we sometimes cannot articulate easily. One of the trends with last meals was the amount of fried or comfort food.”
4. Victor Feguer, who was hanged in 1963 for kidnap and murder, asked for a single olive. He reportedly thought it might grow into an olive tree from inside his body and hoped it would make use of him as a symbol of peace.
5. “I’m not trying to push my political beliefs on the viewer. My main goal was to have the viewer identify with the prisoner though their meal request.”
6. “I wanted the viewer to think of them as a person for a moment instead of them being anonymous.”
7. “Nor am I trying to make a judgment about the crime.”
8. “The viewer can make up their own mind as to whether they agree with the punishment or not.”
9. Texas has reversed the tradition of allowing death row inmates their final meal choice.
10. Henry says: “As much as I think it’s a strange ritual, I think it’s worse to have reversed this age-old ritual. I’m sure there was more money spent in creating the legislation than will be saved.”
11. “I think it’s a subject that people can relate to and are curious about. We all eat and we will all die.”
12. Teresa Lewis, 41 years old, Virginia — murder, conspiracy, and robbery, death by lethal injection in 2010
While the number of death sentences has dropped in the last 20 years, it’s still legal in 30 U.S. states. What’s your thoughts on the effectiveness of this old law? Is it something that you think we should leave behind or does it still have a place in 2018?