Representative Doug Ricks

Representative Doug Ricks

BOISE — A bill to compensate people who have spent time in prison after being wrongfully convicted of a crime is headed to the House floor.

The House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously Thursday to move the bill on. Sponsored by Rep. Doug Ricks, R-Rexburg, the bill would entitle people to $60,000 a year for years wrongfully spent in prison, $75,000 a year for years wrongfully spent on death row and $25,000 a year for years wrongfully spent on parole.

The committee debated the bill briefly before voting to send it on. House Assistant Majority Leader Jason Monks, R-Nampa, said he would have liked to have seen more involvement from local governments. Both men who testified before the committee about their own wrongful convictions, Monks said, including Chris Tapp, were convicted due to the actions of local police departments, not the state.

“I would have liked to have seen a little more skin in the game from the locals, because that’s where the problem originated and, ultimately, they should be helping to address the solution in the end,” he said.

Tapp confessed in 1997 to participating in the rape and murder of Angie Dodge in Idaho Falls but was freed from prison in 2017 amid concerns his confession had been coerced. He was formally exonerated in 2019 when Idaho Falls police arrested another man and charged him with the murder.

Ricks said he agreed, but that could be more difficult to legislate from the state level. He did say his bill would deduct the amount of money an exonerated person wins from a lawsuit from the state’s liability.

Reporter Nathan Brown can be reached at 208-542-6757. Follow him on Twitter: @NateBrownNews.