Bill to compensate wrongly convicted heads to House

From left, Republican Rep. Barbara Ehardt, Christopher Tapp, and Republican Sen. Doug Ricks pose for photos in the Statehouse in Boise, Idaho, on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021 after a bill they support passed a House committee. The committee unanimously approved the measure that would pay $62,000 a year for wrongful incarceration and $75,000 per year on death row.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Legislation to compensate people wrongly convicted of crimes in Idaho headed to the full House on Wednesday.

The House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee unanimously approved the measure that would pay $62,000 a year for wrongful incarceration and $75,000 per year on death row.

Lawmakers gave several examples of people wrongfully convicted in the state.

“Unfortunately, in this particular case, and a few others, Idaho has failed,” said Republican Rep. Barbara Ehardt, one of the bill's sponsors. “It is time that Idaho make right that which we have done wrong.”

Republican Sen. Doug Ricks, another sponsor, said Idaho is one of 15 states that doesn’t compensate people sent to prison for crimes they didn’t commit.

A similar measure cleared both the House and Senate last year but was vetoed by Republican Gov. Brad Little. Ricks said he worked with Little on the latest version that has already passed the Senate.

Christopher Tapp was convicted of rape and murder in 1998 following the 1996 death of Angie Dodge. He was released in 2017, and DNA evidence cleared him in 2019. Another man has since pleaded guilty.

“Being in prison is as horrible as you can imagine,” he told lawmakers. “And being there when you are innocent is that much worse. I missed out on 20 years of my life."

There are six people who served time in prison who could qualify for a payment if the bill becomes law, Ricks said.

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