There are few things as tragic as someone spending time in prison for a crime that they did not commit. These wrongful incarcerations often last only a few months, but occasionally they can last several years. The victim has to endure their loss of freedom while their attorney seeks a way to get their conviction overturned. If they manage to regain their liberty, then they often struggle to put their life back together and suffer the consequences of their incarceration for years to come, including loss of employment and the ability to support themselves.
The Idaho Wrongful Conviction Act
In Idaho, state lawmakers have put together a piece of legislation in an attempt to remedy this problem. It’s called the Wrongful Conviction Act, and the Idaho legislature passed it into law earlier this year.
Under this law, if you receive an exoneration from a criminal conviction – such as when new evidence emerges that clears your name – you can receive monetary compensation for the time you spent in prison.
For every year of wrongful imprisonment, an exonerated person can receive $62,000. If the wrongful conviction included the death sentence, the exonerated person can receive $75,000 for each year spent on death row. In addition, the law grants the exonerated person $25,000 for each year they were unjustifiably on a sex-offender registry or under post-release supervision.
A breath of fresh air for the exonerated
Two of the Act’s biggest supporters were Christopher Tapp and Charles Fain. These two men were both exonerated and released from prison after new evidence emerged that proved their innocence of the crimes they were convicted of. Mr. Tapp had served 21 years in prison before new DNA evidence showed that someone else had committed the murder he had been imprisoned for.
Now that this Act is a permanent addition to Idaho law, people like Mr. Tapp who receive exonerations for crimes they did not commit will be able to receive the compensation they need to put their life back together and make the most of their second chance at life.