O.J. Simpson was granted parole Thursday after more than eight years in prison for a Las Vegas hotel heist, successfully making his case in a nationally televised hearing that reflected America's enduring fascination with the former football star.
With the ruling, the 70-year-old Simpson, who was convicted in 2008 of an armed robbery involving two sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room, could be out of prison as early as Oct. 1 after serving the minimum nine years of a 33-year sentence.
When the final vote to grant parole was read after parole commissioners deliberated just over 30 minutes, Simpson lowered his head and then raised it up with a big smile.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you," an emotional Simpson said while his sister, Shirley Baker, wept and hugged Arnelle Simpson, his daughter.
I believe Simpson being granted parole is the absolute correct decision. Yes I'm aware that he is most likely responsible for the 1994 murders of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, despite being found not guilty in a jury trial. But the idea that he was sentenced to thirty three years for a crime where he was merely present always smacked of a "karma" ruling. Sorry, but that's not how the American justice system should operate.
So how will Simpson adapt to life on the outside? Hard to say for sure. I've already heard some predictions that he'll do something to land himself back in jail within two years. One term of his parole which stands out is Simpson "is permitted to drink alcohol, but not to excess." So if his blood alcohol content ever reaches .08 or higher, that would be a parole violation. Since being acquitted of double murder in 1995, Simpson continued his reputation for living "fast and loose," whether it was womanizing, boozing it up, etc. It was much easier to get away with such activities in the late '90s/early 2000s before social media was truly prevalent. But now that smart phones are ubiquitous, it takes just one person to video an inebriated O.J. out on the town.
For Simpson's sake, let's hope he is able to spend the fourth quarter of his life just enjoying family and friends within the confines of whatever new home he'll reside. However, I'm skeptical he'll be able to maintain such a low profile after spending literally his entire adult life some sort of spotlight.