First there was "Jack Dunphy" opining anonymously at the National Review Online. Now there is Sgt. Sunil Dutta writing in the latest issue of The Nation, under his real name, that "the time has come to join the rest of civilized nations and abolish capital punishment."
Working as a police officer, I have a unique vantage point from which to view the death penalty: It is no less than a vestige of medievalism. I have to live with the fact that at any given moment, to protect someone's life, I might become the judge, jury and executioner. I would lose no sleep if that came about. I have stood over corpses of children and elderly victims, I have seen perpetrators and victims of gang violence and I have investigated sickening murders where an entire family was bound and burned to death. I have met more than my share of cold-blooded murderers, including some in my own family. I have also lost dozens of my family members in religious massacres; one of my uncles was blown to bits by a bomb planted by terrorists.
I have heard all the arguments supporting capital punishment and found them wanting....Geography, politics, socioeconomic status of the victim and killer, timing, prosecutorial selection, jury composition, jurisdiction of police investigating the crime and the victim's and killer's gender and skin color usually determine who gets the death sentence....
Life in prison without parole is moral, practical and far less expensive than the complicated and flawed process that leads to the death chamber. With life imprisonment, the murderer is removed from society and forgotten, so that attention can be turned to the victim's family and their needs.
Whole thing is available only to subscribers. Dutta's credit line says he is working on a memoir, From Punjab to South Central Los Angeles. In 2002, the prospective manuscript was titled Hard Wall of Reality: Journey of a Liberal Scientist in the LAPD. In 2001, he was working the Valley traffic division and and wrote an op-ed piece for the Times arguing against the use of racial profiling. [ Dutta is now in the Planning and Research Division downtown.]