“I will never fully understand the hypocrisy of fulfilling someone’s last wishes only to take their life the very next day. … It’s a confusing gesture. It almost feels like the last meal does more for the executioner than it does for the inmate: a clearing of the conscience.”
Intrigued by “the severity of capital punishment and the strangely forgiving nature of last meals,” photographer Julia Ziegler-Haynes set out to capture the last meals of 24 executed prisoners in a new book, Today’s Special. Based on public records, she recreated and photographed each meal from the vantage point of the inmate.
Above is the moving image of a black, unpitted olive Robert Anthony Buell, who was executed for the murder of an 11-year-old girl in September 2002, requested. (View a slideshow of more photos here.)
It’s worth noting that last September, Texas ended the practice, citing excesses after a death row inmate left the enormous meal he’d requested uneaten. The most popular requests have been hamburgers, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.