He used to carry out the death penalty. This is why he totally changed his mind.

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':

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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