Last updated on: 8/29/2008 | Author:

David Friedman, PhD Biography

Professor at Santa Clara University Law School
Not Clearly Pro or Con to the question "Should the Death Penalty Be Legal?"

“What is the net cost of punishment? In the simple case of a fine, it is zero -the criminal pays… In the case of imprisonment or execution, the cost is higher. The cost of imprisonment includes not only the wages of guards but also the time of jail inmates -unlike the case of a fine, nobody gets what the prisoner loses…

[I]mprisonment appears to be not only less efficient than a fine but also less efficient than execution. Bullets and rope are cheap, so the total cost of an execution consists almost entirely of the cost paid by the criminal-his life. Jails and jail guards are expensive, so the total cost of imprisonment is substantially more than the cost to the criminal… [T]he reason our system does not work that way is that it is not efficient, either because efficiency is not our objective or because we have done a bad job of getting it.”

“Rational Criminals and Profit-Maximizing Police,” The New Economics of Human Behavior, Eds. Mariano Tommasi, PhD, and Kathryn Ierulli, PhD, 1995

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Professor, Santa Clara University Law School, 1995-present
  • John M. Olin Faculty Fellow, University of Chicago Law School, 1986-1993, 1994-1995
  • Visiting Professor, Cornell Law School, 1993-1994
  • Olin Scholar, Cornell Law School, Fall 1992
  • Associate Professor, Tulane University, AB Freeman School of Business, 1983-1986
  • Assistant Professor, Dept. of Economics, University of California at Los Angeles, 1980-1983
  • Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics, University of California at Irvine, Winter 1980
  • Assistant Professor of Economics, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, 1976-1980
  • PhD, Physics, University of Chicago, 1971
  • MS, Physics, University of Chicago, 1967
  • None found