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OJ Simpson is Granted Parole After Serving 9 Years for Armed Robbery

Famous ex-football player OJ Simpson succeeded just last week in a parole hearing before the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners. As famous as his football days are, Mr. Simpson is obviously more famous these days for the criminal murder trial in which he was involved and ultimately found innocent. However, after an kidnapping and armed robbery conviction in 2007, OJ still found himself imprisoned-albeit for an entirely different reason. Now, with 9 years having passed on his sentence, he was finally up for parole.

The crime that Mr. Simpson was convicted of dealt with a conflict over sports memorabilia. In September of 2007, Mr. Simpson apparently led a group of men–armed with guns–into a Las Vegas hotel room to take hundreds of items of sports memorabilia he stated belonged to him. After these events, a jury convicted Mr. Simpson of two counts of kidnapping with a deadly weapon, robbery with a deadly weapon, assault with a deadly weapon, and coercion with a deadly weapon as well as tree counts of conspiracy and one count of burglary with use of a deadly weapon.

After the trial, Mr. Simpson became inmate No. 1027820 at Lovelock Correctional Facility in Nevada and has been serving his sentence since these convictions. In July 2013, Mr. Simpson was paroled on his burglary count as well as all the counts of robbery and kidnapping. However, the 9 year minimum before he was eligible for parole had not come up on his other counts. Now, with the required time passed, the time had come for Mr. Simpson to get a parole hearing and a chance to rejoin society.

OJ SimpsonFour Parole Board commissioners out of the seven members of the board convened to hear his parole. With a minimum of four votes required for parole, a unanimous vote was required for OJ to get out. Fortunately for Mr. Simpson, this is exactly what happened. Now it’s just a waiting game for Mr. Simpson, he has been moved to protective custody and should be a free man as soon as early October of this year.

Mr. Simpson is obviously ecstatic about the decision, as he should be. Regardless of what somebody has done, the ultimate goal of prison is to rehabilitate as many people as possible. Where somebody has done their time and proved they are not a threat to society they should be released. While some may point to Mr. Simpson’s criminal history, a history is not a guarantee of how the future will unfold. Criminal history is also not the only element parole boards commonly consider in determining whether parole should be granted. If you face criminal charges or have a loved one who has been convicted, it is crucial to fully understand how these parole hearings work. For that reason, let’s take a look at how parole hearings work.

How Parole Hearings Work

Parole is basically the opportunity to serve the remainder of your sentence under the supervision but outside prison. When or if somebody will become eligible for parole varies based on the conviction but often occurs after about a third of a sentence is served.

The factors considered for parole vary from state to state but generally include some mix of the following: good behavior while imprisoned, whether the person would threaten the public, whether release would depreciate the seriousness of the offense, the likelihood that the inmate would commit the same crime again, the efforts of the inmate to rehabilitate, the age of the inmate, their mental status, their marital status, whether they show remorse, their prior criminal history, the type and severity of the offense they committed, and their education and training. As you can see, there’s quite a bit that goes into these determinations-something only made more complicated by every state having its own approach.

Nevada itself has a point based approach for determining whether somebody should receive parole; focusing on static and dynamic factors. They go by golf scores out in Nevada, so the lower the parole score the better. They look at eleven factors. The static factors include the age the person was first arrested, whether they’ve broke parole in the past, their employment history prior to arrest (the longer they held a job the more likely they are to get parole), the type of offense, any history of drug or alcohol abuse, and gender (men are less likely to receive parole). The dynamic factors include current age (over 41counts for you while being under 21 counts heavily against you), active gang membership, treatment programs while in custody, good or bad behavior while imprisoned, and current custody level (minimum custody, medium custody, or maximum custody/solitary confinement).

Simpson likely scored a low-risk assessment. The Nevada framework likely left him scoring two points for previous alcohol abuse, minus one point for his age, minus one point for good behavior, and plus one point for being a man. This leaves him with around three points, with some potential wiggle room up or down depending on the level of custody he was held at. Low-risk is anything under 5 points, making OJ’s parole less of a surprise than some might think.

Nevada Currently Working On Improving It’s Parole Program

Another element which may have factored into Mr. Simpson’s parole is the fact that Nevada has, in recent years, been attempting to address the fact that they have a particularly low rate of successful parole hearings. A study from a few years back suggested the state take a more aggressive approach to releasing low-risk inmates and pointed out a number of issues with how parole is determined.

Those who maintain innocence are often denied parole on this basis-citing a lack of remorse. This can be problematic, especially when they actually turn out to be innocent on several occasions. Those who sue for a parole hearing often have this treated as bad behavior negatively effecting their chances of parole, even when they win a suit saying they have a right to a parole hearing. The fact that somebody is young when they are arrested is a poor reason to deny them parole. Finally, in perhaps the most ridiculous issue, a change in software back in 2007 apparently resulted in a number of false felonies ending up on inmate reports and leading to denied parole.

Know Your Rights When it Comes to Parole

As you can see, parole is often a flawed system. However, it is a crucial right for anybody convicted of a crime. Each state treats it differently to some degree and it is crucial that you know how it is handled, whether for yourself or for those you love. OJ certainly is glad for knowing his rights. He’s been described as “over the moon” with the decision, as he should be. Sending somebody to prison has the goal of ultimately rehabilitating them and allowing them to return to their families, this is why we have parole in the first place.

Jonathan Lurie


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