With OJ Simpson Parole Hearing Looming, Is America Ready For The Release Of It’s Most Famous Inmate?

As prison life goes, you could do worse than a stretch at the Lovelock Correctional Center. The inmates at Lovelock—1,680 when filled to capacity—are fed fresh fruit and permitted to watch ESPN. Each 80-square-foot cell is shared by two men. The facility is designated “medium custody,” so the inmates’ relationship with guards tends to the cordial, and violence is rare. Located in the windswept midsection of Nevada, an hour and a half northeast of Reno off I-80, Lovelock sits on a vast tract of land, allowing for multiple prison yards and sports fields.

Lovelock’s most prominent inmate is number 1027820. Controversial as it may be, his record indicates no prior felonies. It lists him as standing 6′ 2″, 235 pounds, with a “medium” build and “dark” complexion. Brown eyes. Black hair, though in the official prison photo, it’s more salt than pepper and appears to be in a state of retreat. The same manifest lists a series of aliases that includes “Juice.”

O.J. Simpson turns 70 in July. Incarcerated since 2008, he is due to go before the Nevada parole board as early as this summer. Depending on the board’s recommendation, 2017 might well be the year that perhaps the most famous inmate in America—the subject of an award-winning documentary and an award-winning scripted show two decades after his Trial of the Century—returns to society.

Before handicapping the chances of Simpson’s release, take a moment to reflect on how Simpson ended up here—a journey wreathed in ironies. In 1995 he was acquitted of the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman. Nerves from that verdict remain raw. And they were exposed further last year with the release of the transcendent documentary O.J.: Made in America, which argued to great effect that the jurors’ verdict was less about the merits of the case than it was about exacting karmic justice on the LAPD for years of perceived racial bigotry.

Two years later—before a different jury and facing a lower burden of proof—the families of Brown and Goldman won a wrongful-death civil suit against Simpson. He was ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages but has avoided that obligation, using federal and state laws that exclude certain assets from civil forfeiture and moving to Florida, where, under the state’s homestead exemption, forced sale of residences can be blocked.

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“The Juice is loose.” This phrase verberated throughout Los Angeles and the rest of the Nation in 1995 when OJ Simpson was acquitted of a double homicide charge. In the most well known and publicized trial in American history, Simpson was seemingly impossibly found innocent of the murder of his then Wife Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman.

If you have yet to watch the documentary on ESPN, “OJ: Made In America” I genuinely feel bad for you. 1st because it’s the best documentary I’ve ever seen and I am OBSESSED with great documentaries, I’ve seen them all. Clearly, people who know much more about film agree with me, as it is expected to be the lock winner for “Best Documentary” at the Oscars this year, ever heard of em?

The second reason you should watch the documentary is for informational purposes. If you haven’t watched the doc or were alive at the time, but not following the case closely every day for hours, then you really don’t have any idea what you’re talking about on the topic. There has been so much misinformation, weird sources, overplayed and false narratives about this whole trial that to comment on the trial without doing one of those two previously mentioned things means you are not substantially informed. Even the highly praised FX mini-series starring Cuba Gooding Jr was filled with over-dramatizations. Yes, a great series, but it just flat out wasn’t accurate at times. I saw it as a real disservice to do that on a topic which requires the utmost accuracy to properly understand how and why the whole case unfolded the way it did.

The ESPN doc does a fantastic job of showing how tense of a time it was for the black community in LA in the early and mid 90’s. We learn throughout the doc, that the predominantly black jury, ultimately sided with OJ, if not entirely, but in large part as payback for the way the LAPD had treated minorities in Los Angeles for the last five or six plus decades. And guess what? I can’t blame them…in ways.

Yes, the LAPD illegally racially targeted Blacks and Hispanics on a consistent basis. Those are facts. The images of the infamous video of the Rodney King beating and subsequent acquittal of the LAPD officers involved were still fresh in the minds of everyone. Another famed case fueling the anger within the black community was the Latasha Harlins case. Where a young black teenage girl was shot in the back of the head and killed by a Korean store clerk Soon Ja Du. Du claimed Latisha was attempting to rob the store, but surveillance video from inside the store shows a completely different story. It shows Du killing Hawkins in cold blood for absolutely no reason, Hawkins had money in hand and was calmly leaving the store when she was shot. Du was convicted of manslaughter but then sentenced to only 5 years probation. These two decisions directly resulted in the infamous Los Angeles riots, where 53 people were killed and over $1 Billion in damages was caused across the city of Los Angeles.

Going into the Simpson trial, the LAPD was already on thin ice, they were already considered a racist organization by the majority of LA’spopulation, including by some whites. So naturally, OJ’s $50,000/day “Dream Team” of lawyers made this case about race from the second it began, knowing that was their one and only path to an acquittal.

Now for the “….in ways” part of “I don’t blame them….in ways.” The Black community 100% had a legitimate stance and reason to rebel against the LAPD, after those two seemingly open and shut violent cases were ruled against them. Anyone with a logical brain can look at those two situations and see the courts got it wrong. This was their chance to say “F**ck the Police.” I don’t have any issue with them doing what they did, I have an issue with them doing what they did for OJ Simpson. OJ Simpson killed two people, murdered his own wife in cold blood, those are facts, no if and or buts about it. The Black people needed a face and a spokesman for their movement, a legitimate movement, but OJ did not deserve to be it!

OJ for his entire life rejected the Black community, he rejected Black people and Black friends. He wanted nothing to do with them, he didn’t even consider himself black (he’s 100% black). on June 17th, 1994 (also an amazing ESPN documentary) the day the world stopped and dropped everything to watch a 40 MPH car chase in a white Ford Bronco, after OJ eventually returned home, followed by every cop and helicopter in California, he waited. After sitting in his car in his driveway with a gun to his head for hours, threatening his own life, OJ finally came out and surrendered in the darkness, as the whole world peered on. By that time all that could be made out was the outline of his faded yellow polo he was wearing. He was scared to surrender in the light, he didn’t want people to see him looking guilty. This was clearly the low point for Simpson.

My point from all of that is, that when OJ was finally taken into custody and driven off by police, there were thousands upon thousands of people, the majority of them black, outside cheering for him as word of his car chase spread like wildfire across the city and the nation. After seeing all of this love and admiration for him from the black community, OJ had only one thing to say, in what was described as being said in a shocking and disgusted look and tone,

“What are all these N***ers doing in Brentwood”

And that’s the guy the Black community wanted to back. The guy who thought of them in no better of a light than the LAPD they were trying to fight. That’s what was so disappointing about the Black jurors and communities decision to help acquit OJ, this guy, of all people? This guy. He wasn’t the “Black Knight” they needed or deserved and even more so he didn’t deserve to represent the black community, unfortunately, the jurors and court of public opinion were not able to realize that.

Fast forward 20 years and OJ is so fittingly in prison. In 2007 he was arrested for armed robbery and battery charges from attempting to steal back some of his own memorabilia in a Las Vegas casino hotel. OJ had ruined his get out of jail free card. All he had to do was not get arrested, knowing deep down any conviction would inevitably be affected by the 1995 trial. But he did and it happened. A crime that for a first-time offender might only fetch a 2-5 year sentence, OJ received the maximum allowable sentence and was given 33 years in a state penitentiary. 9 years later following his 2008 conviction, Simpson is up for parole in June of this year and is expected to be approved and released in October. It’s shocking to think about since his fame had died down until last year when the ESPN documentary was released, but again we come back to the same theme, OJ doesn’t deserve it. He got what was coming to him, he should have never been allowed to walk the streets in 1995 and it should happen again until the end of those 33 years. If OJ does get out, I can only hope his life is as miserable as it was from 1995-2007. He was rejected by everyone, thought of nothing more than a murderer, a liar and rightfully so. Abandoned by everyone that knew him and associated with him.  It’s time for him to pay for the death of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman, once and for all. For the first time in twenty plus years, let’s give OJ something he really deserves, the rest of his life in prison.

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