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Baking Soda May Be Good Crime Deterrent

Sat., March 18, 1995, midnight

Obeying the law means you never have to use baking soda as toothpaste. You’re free to browse supermarket shelves and pick any brand and flavor you want.

In fact, you can load your shopping cart with mouthwash, mint or cinnamon-flavored dental floss, and your favorite color of toothbrush.

Freedom of (Toothpaste) Choice is one of the little perks for lawabiding citizens. And it was one of the freedoms Kootenai County inmates lost when they broke the law and were caught.

Jail-birds should feel lucky that they get free room and board, television, and an opportunity to brush their teeth four times daily. But people with time on their hands and a tendency toward lawlessness see things differently.

Inmates are crying crocodile tears because Kootenai County Jail officials are forcing them to brush with baking soda. One is complaining that baking soda is too abrasive and damages his teeth. Another says it leaves a bad taste in his mouth (much like his crime does for society).

There’s several good reasons for the switch.

It saves money. Baking soda is far less expensive than toothpaste, which makes it a very attractive alternative in this day of Republican belt-tightening.

Equally important, Kootenai County prisoners can’t squirt baking soda into vents. Inmates have gummed up the ventilation system with toothpaste, complaining that they did so because their cells were too cold. One whined that the cold air coming through the vents gave him earaches - though the jail temperature is kept at a reasonable 68 to 72 degrees.

What do these guys expect - a quality room with a view and all the amenities of The Coeur d’Alene Resort?

Sheriff Pierce Clegg and his staff have an obligation to house, feed and meet the medical and dental needs of prisoners in a clean, safe environment. The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department handles these obligations well while being subjected to constant complaints, goofy tricks, and danger posed by some inmates.

Baking soda not only served as a teeth cleaner for years, but recently has made a comeback in several name brands. Experts say you can keep your teeth clean simply by flossing and brushing with water.

In time, maybe baking soda will become a crime deterrent in Kootenai County. An orange box of the multi-use powder should remind former inmates of what jail life is like.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = D.F. Oliveria/For the editorial board

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