Why OJ Simpson Will Be Granted Parole This Week

Simpson has been “pretty close to a model citizen” in prison, ESPN legal analyst Ryan Smith tells TheWrap

Last Updated: July 18, 2017 @ 2:43 PM

O.J. Simpson is up for parole on Thursday, a hearing that most experts — and Las Vegas bookies — agree will go exactly as Prisoner 1027820 would like it to.

After all, Simpson has already been paroled on some charges, so that’s a pretty good start. Plus, the ward of Nevada has been “pretty close to a model citizen” while behind bars, ESPN legal analyst Ryan Smith told TheWrap, adding: “When that happens, when you’re up for parole on your charges, you get out.

“The whole point of parole is: somebody has done their time, they’ve done the minimum,” Smith continued, “and if they sort of follow the rules as we’ve said they should, we want them to go back out into society.”

The former football star was sentenced to nine to 33 years for armed robbery and kidnapping following a scheme to break into a room at the Palace Station hotel in Las Vegas to steal sports memorabilia.

The prior “Trial of the Century” not only shouldn’t even be a factor in this decision, the 1995 case — in which Simpson stood trial in the slayings of Nicole Brown-Simpson and Ronald Goldman — probably won’t even come up on Thursday, Smith said.

Though the parole board has some discretion in their comments and line of questioning, the six-person group is technically supposed to only consider a potential parolee’s actual convictions. And lest you forget, Simpson was acquitted of the double homicide that captivated the nation.

“So, on that basis, you would think they would not bring it up — but people freelance, and you never know,” Smith, who will help ESPN’s “OTL” analyze the event staring Thursday at 1 p.m. ET, continued. “I would say they’re less likely to bring it up and more likely to follow the rules, because they want to show they’re dotting their “i’s” and crossing their “t’s,” and doing everything right by the letter of their guidelines.”

Any deviation from protocol could be perceived as the parole board “making a statement” or “convicting him in some way,” Smith added.

What will that parole board look like, anyway? For starters, they’ll be in plain clothes — no robes for these men and women. Four of them will be on-site and two more off-site if needed, Smith explained. Connie S. Bisbee, Tony Corda, Susan Jackson and Adam Endel will hear the case and go through a risk assessment. The former defendant will get an opportunity to speak, as will his one living victim in the armed robbery/kidnapping case (the other is deceased).

That should all take just 10-15 minutes to an hour or so, Smith said, and all of it will be televised — except the board’s deliberations. That part should take no more than 30 minutes itself, he added: “Nevada really wants to get this done in the same day.”

This hearing is heavy on optics, in so many ways.

If the board locks up at three-three, Simpson won’t get another hearing for six months. If denied, his next hearing will be in one to three years.

Neither of those are likely to happen, Smith told us. But even if Simpson is granted parole, he won’t be released until early October. It’ll be up to the parole board if Simpson can head to Florida — his preferred location — or if he must stay in Nevada. Any violation of the specific terms of one’s parole can land them behind bars … so celebrate with caution, Juice.

“There’s this perception that when people get paroled, they’re free. They’re not. They’re not really free,” Smith said. “Because when you think about it, their movements are restricted. They have to get permission to leave the state under certain circumstances. They’re told when to be at certain places, what things they can and cannot do. Some parolees can’t have drinks, they can’t do drugs. They can’t engage with certain people.”

“He’s going to have restrictions on his life for quite some time that will make it so that he is not ‘free,'” he continued. “So, it’s not a full-on release … you’re not in prison, you’re not facing four walls everyday — but you’re still in a prison of sorts, because you’re still responsive to the state.”

Thursday’s hearing will be streamed from the Lovelock Correction Center, where Simpson has been a resident since 2008.

Simpson denied that he broke into the room and that he held people at gunpoint, but did admit to taking the items, which included memorabilia that he said belonged to him.