Drug user goes to prison | TheUnion.com

Drug user goes to prison

A repeat drug offender will go to prison after being given a chance to take care of medical problems and personal affairs.

But Matthew M. Bandy repeated his plea to get into a drug rehabilitation program that could help him quit methamphetamine for good.

“I’ve been to prison. I can do 18 months standing on my head,” Bandy told The Union. “But when I get out, I’ll have no supervision.”

Despite Bandy’s lapse back into addiction after having been drug-free for several years, recovering addicts and those who work with them said county rehabilitation programs have important successes and should be supported.

Bandy is out of jail on his own recognizance while he tries to arrange for surgery to relieve sciatic pain caused by a work-related injury and a serious motorcycle accident, both of which occurred in 2004. Those incidents, Bandy said, contributed to his descent back into drugs.

In an arrangement reached in Nevada County Superior Court on Friday, Bandy will turn himself in on April 10. Judge John H. Darlington sentenced the Grass Valley man to four years in state prison in connection with drug and weapons charges, court records show.

The California Department of Corrections will decide where Bandy will serve his sentence.

The charges arose out of six arrests in 2005 that violated the conditions of Bandy’s probation in a 2000 case, in which he pleaded guilty to having methamphetamine. He entered a county drug rehabilitation program.

Bandy could serve as little as 14 months before being paroled, said his lawyer, Gregory Klein of Nevada City.

In February, Bandy also filed a civil suit against a woman he said ran into him while he was riding his motorcycle on La Barr Meadows Road in August 2004. A settlement in that case and a workers’ compensation claim could help finance the medical procedures, Bandy said. A Pasadena lawyer is handling the civil cases.

In the meantime, Bandy said, he is trying to stay clean. While out of Wayne Brown Correctional Facility, he attends 12-Step meetings twice a day. He has a sponsor. He goes to counseling sessions at Community Recovery Resources and gets tested for drugs four times a week, he said.

All are conditions of his release. The longer prison sentence still hangs over his head as an incentive to comply, according to court records.

But Bandy worries about his ability to stay clean when he gets out of prison, where he has been eight or nine times since he was a young man, Bandy said.

“Every time I went to prison, I thought, ‘When I get out, I’m not going to do drugs.’ But I’m an addict. I’ve been doing meth since I was 18,” Bandy said.

Bandy had hoped to get into a drug recovery program in lieu of prison. That would have resulted in a suspended sentence of at least 10 years, according to court records. One probation violation could have sent him to prison for the full sentence – a dangerous bargain for hard-core addicts, Klein said.

High profile offenders such as Bandy have cast a shadow over the success stories that come out of drug rehabilitation, Klein said.

“It’s a good thing to give people a chance,” said Klein, many of whose clients face drug-related charges. “There are people who don’t relapse like Matt and they really deserve the chances that Matt’s getting.”

After pleading guilty to the 2000 drug charge, Bandy stayed out of prison, completed the two-year Drug Court program with Darlington and stayed clean another two years.

To contact staff writer Trina Kleist, e-mail trinak@theunion.com or call 477-4231.

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