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Wrongfully convicted would get compensation under new bill proposal

Posted at 7:14 PM, Jan 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-04 16:31:51-04

Governor Little vetoed the bill in March, citing concerns over the amounts of compensation, the health insurance add-on, and the education credits add-on.

The House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously Thursday to pass a bill that would compensate people wrongfully convicted of a crime, according to Idaho Statesman journalist Cynthia Sewell.

The bill now heads to the full House.

The Idaho Innocence Project is helping lawmakers with a bill that would give financial compensation for those who have been wrongfully convicted in Idaho.

The bill was introduced in the legislature on Wednesday. Dr. Greg Hampikian, Boise State professor and co-director of the Idaho Innocence Project, says a wrongfully convicted person would receive $60,000 per year in compensation -- and $75,000 per year if they were previously on death row. He says compensation for the wrongfully convicted of federal crimes often amounts to about $50,000.

The bipartisan bill is inspired by the case of Christopher Tapp, the Idaho falls man who spent more than 20 years in prison for the 1996 rape and murder of Angie Dodge -- but who was later exonerated and released due to DNA evidence that ruled him out.

Idaho is one of just 15 states in the country that offers no compensation to the wrongfully convicted once they have been released. Hampikian says this bill would help the wrongfully convicted with securing housing and employment after release.

"Potential employers will check their records; their records aren't erased just because you're exonerated -- you have to petition for that, it takes time. They can't get housing. Nobody wants to rent to a convicted murderer or rapist, and all of that takes time to correct. The compensation gives them a chance to get their lives back on track," said Hampikian.

Representative Doug Ricks (R-Rexburg) is sponsoring the bill, and Hampikian says hearings will commence next week.

Last month, Tapp filed an intent to sue the Idaho Falls Police Department for reparations after his two decades in prison.