Wrongful Conviction Act

Gov. Brad Little, Christopher Tapp, and state Sen. Doug Ricks hold up the Wrongful Conviction Act at the Bonneville County Courthouse on Friday, March 5, 2021.

BOISE — On March 5, Gov. Brad Little signed the Wrongful Conviction Act into law. But on Wednesday, an updated version of the law was introduced in the Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee that would add clarifications to the previous one.

The latest version was made after confusion from the Idaho Attorney General’s office, said bill sponsor Sen. Doug Ricks, R-Rexburg. Ricks said he wanted to “clarify and make it very, very, very clear” that the Wrongful Conviction Act compensation “will include any time spent awaiting trial.” The committee voted unanimously in favor of it.

The bill will give claimants a total of $62,000 for each year they were wrongfully imprisoned. Claimants will get an additional $25,000 per year on parole, and if a claimant was on death row then the annual amount is upped to $75,000 per year.

The inspiration for the bill is Idaho Falls resident Christopher Tapp. Tapp served 20 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted for the rape and murder of Angie Dodge in 1998. Tapp was released from prison in 2017 following concerns that his confession had been coerced. In 2019, new DNA evidence matched Dodge’s neighbor Brian Leigh Dripps to the DNA found at the crime scene.

Tapp spent more than a year in jail while awaiting his trial, so the new version of the law with the clarification will add at least $62,000 to Tapp’s total compensation.

”We just wanted to make sure that there was absolutely no question that the intent was to compensate from the time a person was put in jail,” Ricks told the Post Register.

Tapp has begun the process of filing for compensation. He will likely get the money at some point this year. Ricks said the funding for the new law has already been set aside.