Last updated on: 12/6/2016 | Author:

Semon Frank Thompson, Jr. Biography

Former Superintendent of the Oregon State Penitentiary
Con to the question "Should the Death Penalty Be Legal?"

“As superintendent of the Oregon State Penitentiary, I planned and carried out that state’s only two executions in the last 54 years I used to support the death penalty. I don’t anymore…

I was charged with executing two inmates on the penitentiary’s death row, Douglas Franklin Wright and Harry Charles Moore…

Regardless of their crimes, the fact that I was now to be personally involved in their executions forced me into a deeper reckoning with my feelings about capital punishment. After much contemplation, I became convinced that, on a moral level, life was either hallowed or it wasn’t. And I wanted it to be…

Since I retired from corrections in 2010, my mission has been to persuade people that capital punishment is a failed policy. America should no longer accept the myth that capital punishment plays any constructive role in our criminal justice system. It will be hard to bring an end to the death penalty, but we will be a healthier society as a result.”

“What I Learned from Executing Two Men,”, Sep. 15, 2016

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Superintendent, Santiam Correctional Institution Mill Creek Correctional Facility, Oregon Department of Corrections, 2003-2010
  • Superintendent, Columbia River Correctional Institution South Forest Camp, Oregon Department of Corrections, 2001-2003
  • Assistant Director, Community Services, Oregon Department of Corrections, 2000-2001
  • Assistant Director, Institutions Division, Oregon Department of Corrections, 1997-2000
  • Recipient, Warden of the Year, North American Association of Wardens and Superintendents, 1997
  • Superintendent, Oregon State Penitentiary, 1994-1997
  • Superintendent, Arkansas Department of Corrections, 1989-1993
  • Associate Dean of Students, University of Arkansas, 1976-1978
  • Criminal Investigator, University of Arkansas Department of Public Safety, 1975-1976
  • Recipient, Living Legend Award, Willamette University College of Law
  • BA, Social Welfare, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, 1969
  • Completed Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy
  • Attended University of Arkansas School of Law
  • None found
Quoted in:
  1. Is the Death Penalty Immoral?