Tahlequah Daily Press


June 4, 2014

Set of taxpayer-funded dentures are last thing convicted killer needs

TAHLEQUAH — If James L. Kidwell is too good to eat soup, let him eat cake – or some other food soft enough that he can pulverize it by bumping his gums.

Kidwell, a Tulsa County triple murderer, has been fighting for more than a decade to get dentures. But last month, a federal judge prudently tossed out his lawsuit against the state and corrections workers. By “the state,” we mean us taxpayers, because we’re the ones footing the bill to keep that man behind bars for three life-without-parole sentences. Yet he feels we haven’t been doing a good enough job taking care of him. Poor thing has endured digestion problems and has lost weight since he was unceremoniously chunked into the hoosegow.

The family of Fred and Rebecca Barney aren’t losing any sleep over Kidwell’s toothless state. He shot the couple inside their home in Tulsa, then likely set a fire to cover the evidence. Kenneth Maxwell, a 24-year-old good Samaritan who stopped outside the house to report the fire to 911, was also blown away.

Kidwell says corrections workers have been giving him the “runaround” since 2005, when he demanded false teeth immediately following his incarceration. Pardon us if we don’t shed any tears because he can’t masticate a good steak.

The Department of Corrections has a policy that affords dentures only to inmates who can show a medical necessity. Kidwell claims he has one: constipation, resulting from his inability to chew food. Hasn’t he heard of Ex-Lax? At any rate, although Kern conceded the possibility, the expiration of a statute of limitation was a deciding factor.

The people of Oklahoma already paid for the removal of 13 of Kidwell’s remaining 14 teeth when he went to the slammer, and the last remaining snag followed them out his maw a year later. Still, Kidwell has used taxpayer money to buy taffy, kettle corn crunchy cookies, pizza and other food items unsuitable for the dentally impaired.

It is incumbent upon taxpayers to give the minimum care to inmates because, despite the despicable nature of their crimes, they are still human beings and entitled to their dignity. Our Constitution also prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment,” which forces us to accede to our better natures. But Kidwell and others don’t need dentures to survive.

Thousands of hard-working Oklahomans must go without even nominal dental care because they can’t afford it. A set of dentures would be even farther out of their reach: on average, $2,000 to $2,500 for someone without insurance. And implants and bridges? Those can range from $7,000 to $45,000. Yet James Kidwell, who killed three people in cold blood, thinks he deserves them free.

Kidwell’s lucky he didn’t get the death penalty. If he put as much thought into his diet as he did his crimes, he could figure out a way to survive on soft foods.

Text Only
  • Tourism Council and chamber should cut the proverbial cord

    They are defined by two separate purposes and operate under two distinctive sets of bylaws, but years of conflicting opinions have left lingering questions and confusion over the relationship between the decades-old Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce and the younger Tahlequah Area Tourism Council.

    July 30, 2014

  • NSU needs to be more candid when its plans go awry

    Many area residents were disappointed to learn this week that the NSU Fitness Center, and its all-important indoor lap pool, won’t open next month, as originally announced.
    This latest delay is no surprise.

    July 28, 2014

  • Higher premiums a just reward for drunken drivers

    Over the past several years, Oklahoma has slipped in many of the polls that count. This week, we learned Tulsa is No. 4 on a list of cities with high rates of fatal DUI accidents. Is anyone really surprised?

    July 25, 2014

  • Maybe it’s time to think about having another BalloonFest

    The 18th annual BalloonFest was the last one held, in 2010. In summer 2011, when the Daily Press staff hadn’t heard anything about the much-anticipated event, we started asking questions.

    July 23, 2014

  • If you see a drunken driver, take the time to call in a report

    If you see something, say something. You’ve heard the warning, and seen it imprinted on placards at airports. In the wake of 9/11, it became a national mantra, mainly aimed at spotting potential terrorist activities. But it’s good advice anytime, and for any reason, even at the local level.

    July 14, 2014

  • City officials should stop squabbling and try to work together

    It’s bad enough that the Chamber of Commerce scandal has given Tahlequah a black eye. But if the bickering among city officials doesn’t stop, the community will have a complete set of shiners for its public face.

    July 11, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    Despite pressure from some quarters, neither the Press nor anyone else who values full disclosure will be clamming up until all the facts are known, and those who are responsible meet with justice.

    July 10, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    A few board members for the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce are saying they’ve heard nothing but positive things lately – about the chamber itself, and presumably, about themselves.

    July 9, 2014

  • Employer-sponsored insurance may now be a ‘hostage’ situation

    When the fallout settles from the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, many Americans might decide they’re better off with health insurance that doesn’t come from their boss.

    July 7, 2014

  • With confidence in Congress at 7 percent, time for a new slate

    Note to Congress: We don’t like you. Not at all.
    A Gallup poll released Monday, June 30 confirmed what most of us already know: the American public is disgusted with the House and Senate. The survey recorded the lowest level of confidence since Gallup began asking the question in 1991: a whopping 7 percent. That’s not a typographical error; it’s a single digit.

    July 2, 2014


Do you think "blue laws" related to Sunday alcohol sales in Oklahoma should be relaxed? Choose the option that most closely reflects your opinion.

Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars, and liquor stores should be open.
Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars only; liquor stores should stay closed.
Liquor stores should be open Sundays, but drinks should not be served anywhere on Sundays.
The law should remain as it is now; liquor stores should be closed, and drinks should be served on Sundays according to county option.
No alcohol should be sold or served publicly on Sundays.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN