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Politics & Government

Wrongful Conviction Compensation Bill Returns To The Idaho Legislature

James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio
Sen. Doug Ricks, seen here in this file photo when he was a member of the Idaho House of Representatives. He introduced a new version of his bill to compensate the wrongfully convicted Wednesday.

Last year, Gov. Brad Little vetoed a bill that would’ve paid money to those wrongfully imprisoned in Idaho. The bill is back, but it might still be in conflict with Little’s office.

Sen. Doug Ricks (R-Rexburg) sponsored that bill in 2020, which would’ve given those exonerated $60,000 per year wrongfully spent in prison. It would’ve also given them temporary health insurance and free tuition at state colleges and universities.

Idaho is one of 15 states that doesn’t have a wrongful conviction compensation program, according to the Innocence Project.

The bill passed nearly unanimously and the legislature gaveled out of session in March.

“Then, the governor come back and vetoed that legislation. It was a bit of a shock to me,” said Ricks.

In a letter explaining his veto, Little said he admired the spirit of the bill, but that it could put unfunded demands on the state’s schools and insurance fund.

Ricks introduced a new version of the bill Wednesday, which slightly increased how much money people could receive, but wouldn’t cover tuition or health care costs anymore.

It still requires people to file their claims in court, something Little said should be filed with a state board instead to cut down on legal costs.

A spokeswoman for the governor’s office didn’t respond to questions Wednesday about whether it supports this new version of the bill.

It now awaits a full hearing in a Senate committee.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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