Our fall pledge drive ends on Friday, and we're still $5,000 short of our goal.
Help make in-depth reporting sustainable with your tax-deductible donation today.
When Arkansas executed Rickey Ray Rector back when Bill Clinton was governor, the mentally impaired inmate famously set aside half of his last meal—a pecan pie—for after the execution. Since 1976, 879 people have been executed in the United States, 82 percent in the South, 399 in Texas and Virginia alone. Prisoners are generally allowed to choose a last meal, though requests for tobacco products and even chewing gum can be denied, as with Larry Wayne White's lone cigarette. In an ongoing project, photographer Celia A. Shapiro has reconstructed such last requests. Each picture has its own back story—Ricky Lee Sanderson eschewed his last meal in protest but eventually ate a HoneyBun—and overall, her photos better illustrate who we execute than any grim statistical profile ever could.