Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Living Hand to Mouth

by B. Strong

From CNN today, a story about a doctor who stole a human hand from a cadaver to give to an exotic dancer. Gruesome, yes, but that's not what caught my eye:
Rashed, 26, is free on $1000 bail...
The charge against Rashed carries up to 10 years in prison.


$1000 bail vs. the risk of 10 years in prison, not to mention the near-certain loss of your medical license. Now, I'm not an economist, but it seems like the incentive to stick around is ridiculously low. What would you do?
Comments:
Hmm, well it depends on what the chances are of getting caught should you flee and what the consequent punishment would be. If the odds are pretty good that you'll get caught, risk aversion may take over.
 
I'm inclined to interpret the low bail as a signal that the likelihood of getting 10 years for the crime is relatively low. (While this story wouldn't seem to need it, it's not uncommon to sex up crime stories by mentioning the seldom-doled-out maximum penalty.)

I'd also guess that he wouldn't lose his license permanently -- a remedial ethics course, a high-social-value/low-prestige probationary job, and he'll be back in business, for better or worse.

Under those assumptions, turning himself in and taking his medicine looks rational to me.
 
He's a resident, not a full doctor, Kim. The incentive to run is low, though the question of whether he would be allowed to go from NJ back to LA to work while on bail isn't addressed.
 
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