Former NFL star O.J. Simpson was granted parole on Thursday after serving nearly nine years of a 33-year maximum sentence for his role in a 2007 armed robbery in Las Vegas. He was convicted of 12 charges, including armed robbery and kidnapping, in 2008.
The highly anticipated parole hearing lasted nearly an hour and a half and included testimony from Simpson’s oldest daughter, Arnelle Simpson, and one of the robbery victims, Bruce Fromong.
Simpson, who recently turned 70 years old, also answered pointed questions about what he was thinking when he participated in the robbery, how he spent his time as an inmate at Lovelock Correctional Facility, and how incarceration has changed him.
During deliberations, the parole board could not weigh Simpson’s 1995 acquittal in the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman.
Parole board members Adam Endel, Connie Bisbee, Susan Jackson and Tony Corda voted unanimously to grant Simpson’s release, citing his lack of prior criminal convictions, community support and a low risk of recidivism.
He could be released as early as October.
Here are some highlights from Simpson’s parole hearing, in his own words.
On leading a productive life behind bars
“I took two courses that I guess you guys don’t give much credit to — called ‘Alternative to Violence.’ I think it’s the most important course anybody in this prison can take because it teaches you how to deal with conflict through conversation.”
“At one point, a couple of guys came to me and they said, ‘O.J., I understand you’re a Baptist. We’re Baptist and have no Baptist service here. Can you help us get a Baptist service here?’ I worked with them. We now have an ongoing Baptist service that I as well attended, I attend it religiously — and pun is intended — and I realized in my nine years here I was a good guy.”
On the parole board’s assessment that he had problems with alcohol
“I’ve never had an alcohol problem, and if I took that alcohol course it would have been more, you know, for my children. In case they ended up having a problem. Well, my kids don’t have a problem. I don’t think anybody’s ever accused me of having an alcohol problem or any kind of substance problem. Of course, on (the day of the robbery), I had drinks. On that day, but it was a wedding celebration. But I never had a substance problem at all.”
On staying clear of violence
“I’ve always thought I’d been pretty good with people and I basically have spent a conflict-free life. You know? I’m not a guy that ever got in a fight on the street and with the public and everybody. …”
“It’s — kind of mind-boggling that they (authorities) turned over to me property that I’m in jail for trying to retrieve. You know? It’s — it was my property. I wasn’t there to steal from anybody. And I would never, ever pull a weapon, ever pull a weapon on anybody.”
On making amends for his crimes
“(Fromong’s) family knows that I wouldn’t wish any harm on these guys. Ever. These guys are friends of mine and I like to think we’re friends again.”
“I made up with (Fromong and Alfred Beardsley) years ago. So I’m sorry it happened. I’m sorry to Nevada. … I thought I was glad to get my stuff back, but it wasn’t worth it. You know, nine years away from your family is just not worth it and I’m sorry.”
On life after release
“You know, right now I’m at a point in my life where all I want to do is spend time, as much time as I can, with my children and my friends, and — and I’m not looking to be involved with the media.”
“I haven’t drank in nine years and haven’t missed it. You know, most of my life, I could be stopped and searched whenever they — I’m not a guy who lived a criminal life. You know, I’m a pretty straight shooter. I’ve always tried to be a good soldier, and — I — I have no problem.”
“I’ve been recognized ever since I was 19 years old. … Wherever we’ve been, it’s always a crowd. This is not new to me. Rarely have I even — even in the last 20 years, rarely have I even had any person give me any negative stuff in the street. People give you looks and everything, but I’m pretty easily approachable. I’ve dealt with it all my life and I really don’t see any problem dealing with the public now, at all.”
Some final thoughts
“I’ve spent nine years making no excuses about anything. I am sorry that things turned out the way they did. I had no intent to commit a crime.”
“I’ve done my time. I would just like to get back to my family and friends. And believe it or not, I do have some real friends. But I don’t think I could have represented this prison — I don’t think any inmate has ever represented it better than I. I did my time.”