+

Semon Frank Thompson filled a syringe with water, knowing — if this weren't just a job training — he'd be moments away from killing someone.

"I can remember this feeling," he explains of his time working in an Oregon prison. "Like, this just doesn’t make sense.”

At the time, Thompson believed in the death penalty. As a young black man growing up in the segregated South, he remembered the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till, a black teenager who was murdered at the hands of white supremacists for daring to flirt with a white woman.


Thompson, like many in his community, wanted justice for Till's killers. And capital punishment seemed like the only way to achieve it.

A photo of Emmett Till on the plaque that marks his grave in Illinois. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Years later — as the superintendent of the Oregon State Penitentiary, filling up that syringe during a training session on lethal injection — Thompson found himself in charge of death.

Administering death sentences was part of his job description.

As superintendent, Thompson was trained to carry out capital punishment at the facility. In his time there, he only carried out two death sentences, but it was enough to change his mind about the procedure forever.

For Thompson, abolishing the death penalty isn't just the moral thing to do — it will prevent further injustice from unfolding.

Most people on death row have done horrific things and committed unspeakable crimes. But to Thompson, who now travels across the country speaking out against the death penalty from his unique perspective, capital punishment fails to make our communities any safer. And evidence backs him up.

Research has yet to find any substantial data suggesting the death penalty deters crime, a 2014 report from The Washington Post noted. In fact, violent crime has generally fallen since 1990, even as more states have implemented bans and placed moratoriums on the death penalty.

On the other hand, the death penalty has certainly taken innocent lives. In the U.S., more than 150 people have been exonerated while on death row since 1976. In that time, a staggering 1,400 people have been executed. It makes you wonder: How many people of those 1,400 were innocent?

“There’s a surreal feeling about sitting down and looking at a human being and talking to them about what I plan to do to them," he said. "I realized that I — at my very, very core — felt that the death penalty was wrong.”

Watch Thompson's story about how his time working at the Oregon State Penitentiary inspired him to devote his life to saving others':

via Chewy

Adorable Dexter and his new chew toy. Thanks Chewy Claus.

True

Every holiday season, millions of kids send letters asking for everything from a new bike to a pony. Some even make altruistic requests such as peace on Earth or helping struggling families around the holidays.

But wouldn’t the holiday season be even more magical if our pets had their wishes granted, too? That’s why Chewy Claus is stepping up to spread holiday cheer to America’s pets.

Does your dog dream of a month’s supply of treats or chew toys? Would your cat love a new tree complete with a stylish condo? How about giving your betta fish some fresh decor that’ll really tie its tank together?

Or do your pets need something more than mere creature comforts such as life-saving surgery?

Keep ReadingShow less
Celebrity

U.S. Soccer star expertly handles an Iranian reporter’s loaded questions about race.

Tyler Adams’s response proves exactly why he’s the captain of the US soccer team.

Tyler Adams expertly handles Iranian reporter's question

Reporters are supposed to ask the right questions to get to the truth but sometimes it seems sports reporters ask questions to throw you off your game. There's no doubt that this Iranian reporter who was questioning Tyler Adams, the US soccer team captain at the press conference during the World Cup had an agenda that didn't involve getting to the truth.

It's not clear if the questions were designed to throw the young player off of his game or if the goal was embarrassment. It really is hard to tell, but Adams handled the unexpectedly harsh encounter with intelligence and poise when some may have found it justified for him to get angry.

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by Jeremy Wong on Unsplash

Teen raises $186,000 to help Walmart worker retire.

In America, many people have to work well past the age of retirement to make ends meet. While some of these people choose to work past retirement age because it keeps them active, some older people, like Nola Carpenter, 81, work out of necessity.

Carpenter has been working at Walmart for 20 years, way beyond most people's retirement age just so that she can afford to continue to pay her mortgage. When 19-year-old Devan Bonagura saw the woman looking tired in the break room of the store, he posted a video to his TikTok of Carpenter with a text overlay that said, "Life shouldn't b this hard..." complete with a sad face emoji.

In the video, Carpenter is sitting at a small table looking down and appearing to be exhausted. The caption of the video reads ":/ I feel bad." Turns out, a lot of other people did too, and encouraged the teen to start a GoFundMe, which has since completed.

Keep ReadingShow less

This article originally appeared on 07.22.21


As if a Canada goose named Arnold isn't endearing enough, his partner who came looking for him when he was injured is warming hearts and having us root for this sweet feathered couple.

Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable, Massachusetts shared the story on its Facebook page, in what they called "a first" for their animal hospital.


Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Mom's praise of audiobooks 'post-baby' has parents sharing how it changed their lives

'Audiobooks have helped me regain a part of myself I worried was lost. Let people read however they can.'

Canva/Twitter

Let people read however they can.

Not too long ago, it seemed like you could only be loyal to one team—team “physical books” or team “e-readers.” There was no neutral territory.

That debate might have dwindled, but it echoes on as people take a stand on physical books versus audiobooks, which have become increasingly popular—nearly half of all Americans currently pay for an audio content subscription, and the average adult in the U.S. listens to digital audio for a little over an hour and a half each day, 28% of that being spoken word. Audiobooks had a particularly big surge during the COVID-19 pandemic, as listeners found the activity more comforting and satisfying than a regular book while under quarantine.

You’d think that the general mindset would be “reading in any form has great benefits, so do whatever you want!” But alas, humans do find odd hills to die on.

Keep ReadingShow less