Sailing with Hospitalized Prisoners
For sheer outdoor fun near Williamsburg, people enjoy sailing the York River. One woman brought her niece to celebrate her high school graduation. A couple brought their young children to show them how to steer a sailboat. And a family from Utah experienced a river much wider than found in their native state. Along the way, Air Force 1 flew overhead twice to Langley AFB for touch-and-go training.
Heather and C.P. Stephens have unique jobs in Jacksonville FL. “I flip houses,” she said, “with my brother who’s a contractor. It’s still very hard for individuals to buy a house from a bank, but now they put them up for auction 20 at a time so there’s plenty to choose from. We pay cash, so there’s no mortgage.
“Usually we’re doing one house at a time to flip within 45 to 60 days. Currently we bought a house for $180,000 and hope to sell it for $280,000. We’re already at 45 days because we found some hidden leaks. Bad caulking outside three windows led to water getting into the house by going down the inside of the interior walls. Not until we pulled up the rug did we see the mold. I had to replace three windows for about $125 each. But the problem is fixed now.
“We only want to fix it up to sell it, not make it stand out in the neighborhood as overly renovated. I do a lot of the work myself, but I can bring in his crew when I have to. We use Lowe’s primarily for construction materials. Lowe’s has been very good to us, saving $15,000 on the last house we did.
“I love the TV shows about our work. I watch ‘Fixer Upper’ and all the rest. It drives him crazy,” she nodded toward C.P. “I love the work, it’s very rewarding.”
CP works for a unique security company. “We transfer jail inmates to the hospital for sickness or injury. There are 60 of us spread across four shifts every day. The patients go into the general population. You could be laying there in the Emergency Room and the guy next to you is a prisoner. The only thing that’s different is that his hands are bound together.”
I asked if prisoners conspire to go to the hospital. “They have a lot of time to think all day. They’ll take a razor blade and break it into tiny pieces no bigger than the fingernail of my pinky. Then they’ll wrap it into a ball of bread from the mess hall. They swallow the ball whole so the blade pieces go easily down their throat without cutting anything. We have to take them to the hospital for X-ray. The hospital shoots an X-ray every 12 hours to monitor the movement of the ball. Either it will go through their system intact or break up. It’s a free trip to hospital for 2 to 12 days, depending on how quickly the bread moves through their system.”
But how do they get the trip in the first place, I asked. “They tell a guard, ‘I swallowed a razor blade.’”
Meanwhile, we sailed along the York in refreshing winds of 8-10 mph, a big relief from the previous day when it was flat. Much of the conversation was light and funny, but the prisoner stuff was fascinating. C.P. enjoyed the quiet relaxation that sailing brings. No prisoners out here. What’s more, their two young children were the best behaved of the many I’ve had out sailing this season.
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