Crime & Justice

​OJ Simpson measures well in Nevada parole risk assessment

OJ Simpson, from
OJ Simpson, from "OJ: Made in America"
Mickey Osterreicher, Courtesy ESPN Films

O.J. Simpson, the former football star, TV pitchman and now Nevada prison inmate No. 1027820, will have a lot going for him when he asks state parole board members this week to release him after serving more than eight years for an ill-fated bid to retrieve sports memorabilia.

Now 70, Simpson will have history in his favor and a clean record behind bars as he approaches the nine-year minimum of his 33-year sentence for armed robbery and assault with a weapon. Plus, the parole board sided with him once before.

Simpson's bid for release from a Nevada prison will depend not only on what he tells parole officials and a report they will review, but on how they measure the danger he poses to the public.

The board uses an 11-point risk assessment, awarding a range of points for each factor, from -1 to 2, to reach a score that groups parole candidates as low, medium or high risk to commit another crime. The lower the number, the greater the likelihood of release.

Simpson was granted parole in 2013 on a kidnapping charge after receiving a total score of 3 points, which made him low-risk. The board's decision left Simpson with four years to serve on other charges before reaching his minimum time behind bars.

Scores of 6-11 points rank as medium risk. Twelve or more points reflect high risk.

Here are the risk factors that parole officials will consider Thursday and how Simpson will likely score:

Age at first arrest

Teens score highest risk; inmates 24 or older, lowest.

Simpson sometimes told of being arrested as a teenager with a group of other youths in San Francisco and telling police his name was Burt Lancaster.

He was 41 when he was arrested in January 1989 for injuring then-wife Nicole Brown Simpson in a domestic argument. He pleaded no contest to spousal abuse.

He was 46 when he was arrested in 1994 after a slow-speed chase on Los Angeles-area freeways following the killings of his ex-wife and her friend, Ronald Goldman. He was acquitted of murder in 1995.

The Nevada parole board in 2013 set Simpson's score at 0 points.

Prior probation or parole getting revoked

Simpson has none.

His score: 0 points.

Employment history prior to arrest

Simpson collects a pension from the National Football League, and retirement counts as full-time employment.

His score: 0 points.

Offense type

Simpson was convicted in Las Vegas in 2008 of kidnapping, armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and conspiracy. Nevada considers robbery and burglary as property offenses.

His score: 2 points.

History of drug or alcohol abuse

The parole board in 2013 faulted Simpson for alcohol use before his arrest, amounting to "serious disruption of functioning."

His score: 2 points.

Gender

Men receive 1 point, and women, 0 points because data reflects that men are more likely than women to commit another crime.

Simpson's score: 1 point.

Age

Nevada subtracts 1 point for parole candidates 41 or older. Simpson is 70.

His score: -1 point.

Active gang membership

Being part of a gang adds 2 points. There have been no reports that Simpson has associated with gangs in prison.

His score: 0 points.

Treatment programs

Completing an educational, vocational or treatment program subtracts 1 point. Simpson has said he has counseled other inmates, but the board in 2013 gave him 0 points.

His score: 0 points.

Disciplinary conduct

Repeated misconduct can earn 2 points, while a clean record for a year can subtract 1 point. Prison officials say Simpson has not had any disciplinary write-ups, and in 2013, he received -1 point.

His score: -1 point.

Custody level

Medium-security inmates like Simpson earn 0 points.

His score: 0 points.

Simpson's likely final tally: 3 points.

Commissioners also will consider letters of support and opposition, comments from his lawyer and a worksheet of guidelines listing 15 or more aggravating and 12 or more mitigating factors that are assessed according to a set of defined rules.

The seven-member board has six members and one vacancy. A majority decision by four board members would grant Simpson parole. A 3-3 tie would bring Simpson back for another hearing in six months.

If an inmate is granted parole, the board can impose conditions on the release.

Simpson has earned sentencing credits and time off for good behavior, cutting his 33-year maximum sentence by more than half. If he is granted parole, he could be out of prison as early as Oct. 1.

Four other men who went with Simpson to a hotel room to retrieve from two memorabilia dealers sports collectibles and personal items that the former football star said belonged to him took plea deals in the heist and received probation.

Two of those men testified that they carried guns. Another who stood trial with Simpson was convicted and served 27 months before the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that Simpson's fame tainted the jury. Simpson's conviction was upheld.

Prison life was a stunning fall for a charismatic celebrity whose storybook career as an electrifying running back dubbed "The Juice" won him the Heisman Trophy as the best college player in 1968 and a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.

He became a sports commentator, Hollywood movie actor, car rental company spokesman and one of the world's most famous people even before his Los Angeles "trial of the century," when he was acquitted in the killings of Simpson and Goldman.