Thursday, April 3, 2008

Paint Sniffing Arrests Lead to Jail Time

A 57-year-old homeless man described as a 'courtroom fixture' due to his multiple paint sniffing arrests was sentenced to nine months in jail yesterday for assaulting a Hooters manager, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.

Paul Vandiver lives under the bridge next to Hooters and had been arrested most recently in December, February, and March for paint huffing. Judge Bob Moon estimated that he had seen the man in court over fifty times for inhalant charges alone. The Assistant District Attorney described him as "one of the revolving door types."

Because of his past criminal behavior, Judge Moon sentenced him to nine months in jail.

According to account of the Hooters manager, Candace Barnes,

Mr. Vandiver walks into Hooters every day and asks for a free cup of coffee. On Sunday, Ms. Barnes said the defendant got upset when she told him the coffee maker was broken. According to Ms. Barnes, he grabbed her hair and pulled her head downward, causing her to seek medical treatment for a strained neck.


“I’ve always been nice to him,” Ms. Barnes said of the homeless man. “Usually if I give him coffee he goes away. I hope he stays away now.”


The Times promises full coverage of the story tomorrow.

This story elicits a good point about addiction and the homeless - are they more prone to inhalant abuse? The same reasons that youth are attracted to them (little to no cost, not illegal to possess, can be found everywhere) may also be a draw to those in disadvantaged circumstances.

Also, the fact that this man had been through the court system dozens of times for huffing-related offenses raises the question of the effectiveness of anti-inhalant laws and whether or not they are acheiving their desired goals.

Update: According to the April 4th story, the 9 month sentence will stand. Mr. Vandiver is also forbidden from visiting that particular Hooters in the future.

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