O.J. Simpson is currently in jail, but not for what you might assume. He was acquitted for the double murder charge that made him even more famous in 1994, but went on to receive the maximum punishment for an armed robbery and kidnapping at a Nevada hotel in 2007. Now, though, he is eligible for parole having served the minimum sentence of nine years, and many legal experts expect for him to be released as early as October. But is there a reason why Simpson could be denied parole? The reasoning is the same for any other inmate.
The parole hearing is decided based on specific conditions, and they are the same in the case of all hearings — no matter your celebrity status. The decision will be made based on factors like his conduct as a prisoner, participation in prison programs, and a risk of reoffending assessment, ABC News reported. That information is turned into a number that the parole board officers assess. From there, these different areas are awarded a number, CNN explained. Depending on the score, it is deemed dangerous or not dangerous to rerelease the prisoner. Any score under five is considered a good score, whereas 12 or more is considered high risk.
So if Simpson were to score poorly based on these factors, and get a number higher than 12, he could be denied parole. Ultimately, though, no matter what the score, it's up to the parole board members to make the final decision. Four parole board members will participate in the hearing via video conference on Thursday. If they all agree to Simpson's release, the process is finished. But if there is any sort of split among them, two more join the debate. Then, four total need to agree on his release. A three-three split would result in Simpson being denied parole until another hearing in 2018.
That is highly unlikely, though, according to legal experts who spoke with organizations like CBS News and CNN. Four years ago, Simpson went through the same process and was granted parole on the lesser seven of his 12 charges, and the same four parole board members will be hearing his case on Thursday. Back then, he was given a total score of three — well within the low risk category. It's likely the parole board members will come to a similar outcome this time.
Even the one remaining victim of his armed robbery is expected to support his release. Bruce Fromong, the only remaining person affected by the 2007 crime (the other since passed away), told CNN that he would testify to support Simpson's release. "I never thought that the crime deserved that much time, that long of a sentence," Fromong told the news channel. "If he called me up and said 'Bruce I'm getting out tomorrow I need a ride,' I'll be there."
That's a very different take from the family of Ron Goldman, the friend of Simpson's former wife who was also killed in 1994. They maintain that Simpson is guilty of the double murder even though he was acquitted. The family released a statement on his possible parole, asking that he be denied early release. "As with all victims and survivors, they will remain patient and optimistic that the system will do what is necessary to ensure the public’s safety remains a priority and that proper justice will be served,” the family said. Though Simpson was acquitted from that case, its high profile nature may never die down, especially in light of this upcoming parole hearing.