O.J. Simpson is eligible for parole in July, and Sports Illustrated and a law professor from New Hampshire set out to answer the question of whether or not O.J. Simpson will actually get out. The short answer seems to be that Simpson’s good behavior and other factors make him a good candidate for parole, but this is still O.J. Simpson we’re talking about.
Currently in the eighth year of a 33-year prison sentence for convictions on 12 crimes stemming from a 2007 incident at at Las Vegas hotel, Simpson is 69 years old, has no prior convictions, no gang affiliations, and hasn’t gotten into any trouble while he’s been in prison.
SI laid out the scoring system that will be used to help decide whether Simpson is freed.
The decision to grant parole is, by definition, discretionary. But it is a decision that Thomas Patton, a former chairman of the parole board in Nevada, stresses is conducted through a “very comprehensive review,” weighing 11 largely objective factors. Between -1 and +2 points are allocated for each criterion. Inmates exceeding five points are classified as a “medium” or “high” risk and are unlikely to be granted parole. Score fewer than five points, and odds swing the other way. In 2013, Simpson scored three points, falling into the “low risk” category. He seems likely to do well again in 2017.
This, according to SI, is how Simpson scores on that scale:
- Age at the time of first arrest (0 points)
- Prior probation or parole revocation (0 points)
- Employment history immediately before arrest (0 points)
- Offense leading to current or prior convictions (2 points)
- History of drug or alcohol abuse (0 points or 1 point)
- Gender (1 point)
- Current age (-1 point)
- Active gang membership (0 points)
- Completed education, vocational or treatment program during prison term (-1 point or 0 points)
- Disciplinary write-ups (-1 point)
- Custody level (0 points)
What this all means, as Las Vegas defense attorney Daniel Hill said to SI, is that Simpson, “is the kind of person who gets paroled.”
The prison that houses Simpson — Lovelock Correctional Facility in Nevada — is considered a medium-custody prison, where violence is relatively rare. He shares an 80 square-foot cell with another inmate. He gets to watch ESPN. And he makes himself useful be cleaning gym equipment and floors.
When he was sent to prison in 2008, Simpson promised the court he’d be the best prisoner they ever had, and he seems to have more or less kept his word.
The 33-year sentence was widely seen at the time as something of make-up call for Simpson’s surprising acquittal in the trial over the 1994 murders of Nicole Brown-Simpson and Ron Goldman. The incident that got Simpson busted was, as portrayed in ESPN’s award-winning documentary, “O.J.: Made in America,” a cartoonishly mismanaged attempt to recover some of Simpson’s sports memorabilia. There wasn’t much question as to whether Simpson had committed a crime, just as to whether the sentence was commensurate with the conviction.
Either way, Simpson has a good chance of living as a free man once again.