Idaho State Capitol in Boise

Idaho State Capitol in Boise

A bill focused on wrongful convictions is making its way through the State Legislature. 

Senator Doug Ricks, from Rexburg, is sponsoring the bill. 

SB 1027, called the "Idaho Wrongful Conviction Act" looks to compensate people in Idaho who have been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for a crime they didn't commit. 

It proposes $62,000 be paid for each year the person wrongfully spent in prison. It also proposes that amount be raised to $75,000 if they were on Death Row. 

The conviction must be reversed or vacated for someone to qualify for the compensation.

The legislation is largely inspired by the case of Christopher Tapp, who spent more than 20 years in prison for the murder of Angie Dodge. Tapp was eventually exonerated in 2019, thanks to advanced DNA technology that proved he had not committed the crime.

Another man, Brian Leigh Dripps, confessed to the murder in 2020. Tapp never received any compensation from the state for the time he spent behind bars. 

Since then, Tapp has been an advocate for those wrongfully imprisoned. 

This session's bill was unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. It now heads to the Senate floor for a vote. If it passes, it would then go to a vote in the House. 

If it passes both chambers, it would go to Gov. Brad Little's desk for him to sign or veto. 

The House and Senate both passed similar legislation in 2020 but it was vetoed by Little. 

According to Ricks' statement of purpose on the bill, Idaho is one of only 15 states that offers no compensation for exonerees. 

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