On Thursday, O.J. Simpson’s parole hearing was televised nationally across multiple networks in the anticipation that he would indeed earn his freedom after spending nine years in prison. That’s exactly what happened, as all four members of the board agreed to grant him parole.
Breaking: O.J. Simpson has been granted parole nine years into a 33-year sentence; could be released as early as Oct. 1st. pic.twitter.com/K9ARkDOcu0
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 20, 2017
While the outcome wasn’t surprising based on predictions from media and even the Vegas odds (yup…) the decision to release Simpson after his notably unapologetic testimony has left many people feeling unsettled and viewing this as yet another failure to hold him accountable.
Simpson’s long-winded explanation of his crimes, how he handled himself in prison and what he plans to do with his life if granted parole were interspersed with oddly-timed jokes and attempts at humor – some of which even worked. However despite being repeatedly asked to express contrition and responsibility for what occurred back in 2007, Simpson couldn’t bring himself to do so.
Instead, he consistently expressed the belief that his only real mistake was trusting the wrong people at the wrong time. Here’s one of his responses to the parole board on the subject:
“I wish this would’ve never happened, I apologized to them at my sentencing. You know, there’s nothing I can do about this kind of media circus going on right now, but I could do something about the whole thing in the beginning. If I would’ve made a better judgement back then, none of this would’ve happened. And I take full responsibility because I should’ve never [trails off]… I haven’t made any excuses in nine years, but I should have never allowed these alleged security guys to help me because it turned out they were only trying to help themselves. If they weren’t there, Bruce and I – we tried to do this. We tried to sit down in the room and call this guy Mike Gilbert and discuss it all but these guys took over and we were unable to do that. If we were able to do that, you would’ve never heard about this. None of us would be here today.”
O.J. repeated that phrase “I wish this had never happened” many times throughout the hearing, always following it up with some version of deflecting the blame onto the others involved in the robbery. The most important factor in any parole hearing is the expression of real and honest remorse – regardless of the crime committed. It’s the reason that wrongfully convicted people rarely get paroled, because the claim that they did not commit the crime and therefore can’t be remorseful does not satisfy the terms of eligibility for release.
He also frequently made the claim that he has no history of past violence, going so far as to say that he’s lived a “basically conflict-free life”, which naturally elicited some strong reactions on social media.
— StephSo (@sommsteph) July 20, 2017
To recap: O.J., his daughter, his lawyer and the creepy memorabilia guy O.J. robbed all say he's a swell guy. A regular Bishop Desmond Tutu.
— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) July 20, 2017
— Podzingis (@Podzingis) July 20, 2017
OJ just said he has lived a "conflict-free" life. Though he was not convicted of murder, his abuse of Nicole Simpson was documented.
— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) July 20, 2017
“I basically have spent a conflict-free life,” O.J. Simpson observes. Oh, man. Do I ever have 20 hours of recent TV to recommend to him.
— Daniel Fienberg (@TheFienPrint) July 20, 2017
There was also this vintage O.J, outburst during which we got a glimpse at his infamous tendency to slip into bouts of rage before quickly composing himself and turning back on the charm:
— Roy Wood Jr- Ex Jedi (@roywoodjr) July 20, 2017
In the end though, it appears he was aided significantly by compelling statements from both his eldest daughter and friend and victim of the actual crime, Bruce Fromong. Simpson is expected to be released on October, so until then, we can expect the jokes to keep coming.
Come on and let OJ go. He still wants to find the real killers.
— Ron White (@Ron_White) July 20, 2017
Board: "OJ would you like give a final statement?"
OJ: "Sure, I'll take a stab at it"#OJSimpsonParole
— Lowell (@TheChukler) July 20, 2017
"Mr Simpson, what will you do if granted parole?"
OJ – "I will focus on not murdering people"
— Fred Delicious (@Fred_Delicious) July 20, 2017
First thing OJ will have to do is catch up on all of those Bills playoff games he missed.
— Travis Yost (@travisyost) July 20, 2017
— JCorrado (@ForzaCorrado) July 20, 2017
We're months away from waking up to an OJ Simpson tweet telling us to "live each day like it's your last" which is basically a threat. Wild.
— Andrew Claudio (@Claudio_GSN) July 20, 2017
/deletes any OJ joke tweets
/puts on a fake mustache
— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) July 20, 2017
12-YEAR-OLD ME: What are people talking about in the future?
ME: Donald Trump and OJ
12-YEAR-OLD ME: The future is awesome
ME: Not really
— Daniel Lin (@danwlin) July 20, 2017