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Idaho Politics

Idaho governor vetoes bill to compensate wrongly convicted

Governor Brad Little
Governor Brad Little

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Idaho Gov. Brad Little has vetoed legislation that would have set up a process to compensate people convicted of crimes they didn't commit, but he suggested he would approve future legislation that didn't put the state in court as a first step.

The Republican governor on Monday said the measure's objective was admirable, but that its process was flawed.

"The bill immediately forces the state into an adversarial legal proceeding in court with the claimant," Little wrote in his veto message.

He suggested instead using an existing board or commission to review cases, such as the Commission on Pardons and Parole or the Board of Examiners. He said that process would be faster and that denied claims could be appealed in courts.

Little said his office will work with lawmakers to create an acceptable process for a bill to be submitted in the future.

The legislation would have paid $60,000 to people who have been wrongly incarcerated and $75,000 per year to exonerated death row inmates.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Doug Ricks, said six former inmates could have benefited from the measure.

He has said the state needs to take responsibility when innocent people are incarcerated. Idaho is one of 15 states that doesn't compensate people sent to prison for crimes they didn't commit.

Idaho has several notable cases of exonerated prisoners who have received no compensation, including Christopher Tapp and Charles Fain. Both testified before lawmakers earlier this year.

Tapp was convicted of rape and murder following the 1996 death of Angie Dodge. He was released in 2017, and DNA evidence cleared him in 2019. Brian Leigh Dripps was arrested on DNA evidence last year and is charged with rape and murder in Dodge's death.

Fain was convicted of kidnapping, rape and murder in 1983 following the death of 9-year-old Daralyn Johnson. In 1984 he was sentenced to death.

But DNA evidence not available at the time of the conviction later cleared him, and he was released in 2001. Johnson's killer hasn't been identified.

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Associated Press

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