Here's what will happen when OJ Simpson is released from prison

Here's what will happen when OJ Simpson is released from prison

Whether you believe him to be innocent or guilty, there's no denying that former footballer and actor OJ Simpson is one of the most infamous celebrities in history. It's hard to believe now, but there was a time when "The Juice" was considered untouchable. His career seemed to perfectly encapsulate the new American dream which had formed for people of colour in the aftermath of the civil rights movement. Simpson was a young black man with a rags-to-riches story, and his gregarious charm, generosity and natural charisma meant that Americans quickly fell in love with the phenomenal running-back.

Born to a drag queen father (who later died of AIDS in 1986) and raised by his mother in the projects of San Francisco, OJ Simpson was from a poverty-stricken background, and wore leg braces due to rickets until early adolescence. Yet his talents on the football field earned him a college scholarship and afterwards catapulted him into international fame.

It seemed as though he could do no wrong. Until 1994, when OJ was charged with the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Simpson and her partner Ron Goldman, and everything went south. After fleeing from the arresting officers and leading more than twenty squad cars on a protracted goose chase, Simpson was apprehended at his home in Brentwood and swiftly taken into police custody.

OJ Simpson and his defence council. Credit: Reuters

What followed was the so-called "Trial of the Century" - a real-life drama that gripped America in a state of mania, and exacerbated the latent tensions that had been simmering in Los Angeles' black community ever since the Rodney King riots. Many people believed that OJ had been framed by the then-notoriously corrupt Los Angeles Police Department, and the eventual revelation that detective Mark Fuhrman, the man who had gathered critical evidence a the crime scene, was an unabashed racist, did little to alleviate suspicion of foul play.

OJ's "Dream Team" of defence lawyers (comprised of Robert Kardashian, Robert Shapiro, Johnnie Cochran and F. Lee Bailey, among others) fought an arduous and highly-publicised trial to keep OJ Simpson out of prison. Eventually, the jury returned a verdict of "not guilty" after a mere four hours of deliberation. OJ was a free man ... or so we all thought until more than a decade later.

In September 2007, Simpson and a number of armed accomplices entered a room at the Palace Station casino and stole sports memorabilia at gunpoint. Simpson admitted under police questioning that he had taken the items in question, which he claimed were stolen from him. Simpson was arrested just days after he was originally detained and charged with multiple felonies, including a charge of kidnapping, assault, criminal conspiracy, use of a deadly weapon, and armed robbery. At a Las Vegas trial in 2008, Judge Jackie Glass sentenced him to 33 years behind bars.

Yet OJ was eligible for parole a mere nine years into his sentence and, as prison authorities have stated that Simpson is something of a model prisoner, he has now managed to win his freedom. While incarcerated, OJ Simpson was a gym caretaker, softball umpire, coach to other inmates, and boasted a spotless record. On July 20, 2017, the Nevada Parole Board decided to grant Simpson his parole.

His release date is scheduled for October 1, 2017; but what's next for OJ after nearly a decade in prison? Well we do know one thing: OJ is going to have to toe the line very carefully in days to come, or risk being sent back to the Lovelock Correctional Centre as Inmate Number #1027820. At 70 years old, he's not as physically capable as he once was.

Simpson's parole is due to expire on September 29, 2022, meaning that he has to spend approximately five years living under the terms of his parole release. This means he's answerable to a parole officer, and that he is banned from leaving the country for any significant length of time.

But Simpson doesn't seem to be worried about leaving America, instead expressing a desire to leave the state of Nevada where he was originally convicted, and move to the Florida home he purchased back in 2000. However the Miami Herald has since reported that the house in question was foreclosed in 2012, it has since been listed on the market for the sum of nearly $1.3 million. Tom Scotto, a friend of OJ, has stated that the former athlete is welcome to stay in Florida with him.

OJ Simpson smiles alongside defence attorney. Credit: Reuters

The terms of OJ Simpson's parole are many, varied and strict. Simpson will be barred from the consumption of alcohol and any form of non-prescription narcotics, and the Nevada parole board requires that parolees submit to random drug screenings as well as searches by a parole officer. Simpson seems undeterred by this, and stated "I haven't drinked [sic] in nine years and I haven't missed it."

Simpson is also required to submit a written report every month to his parole officer. If these terms are violated, or if Simpson engages in any other form of criminal activity, he will be sent back to prison immediately to serve the other 24 years of his 33 year sentence. Upon his release from prison, parole board chairman Connie Bisbee allegedly warned Simpson that "We do not look kindly upon parole violations."

Financially, OJ Simpson's assets seem reasonably secure. He still earns a significant amount of revenue from the publication of his 2007 memoir "If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer", and his NFL pension has been estimated at approximately estimated at $25,000 a month, according to an investigation by Sports Illustrated magazine.

But perhaps the biggest challenge to Simpson's parole is the same thing which has been both boon and curse to him, the single issue which has characterised his case, trial and reputation; namely his celebrity status. After almost ten years on the inside, OJ Simpson will be emerging from his tiny grey cell and moving back into a world that has changed a great deal since 2008. There will be tabloid hacks hounding his every move, paparazzi dogging him to his grave, and an endless stream of requests for exclusive interview rights from commentators, news anchors and pundits.

OJ even has the right to access social media and it will be interesting to see if he ever goes online and joins Facebook and Twitter in the same vein as other celebrities of his status. For his part, OJ Simpson has claimed that the exposure and the public scrutiny will not bother him, stating: "I've been recognized since I was 19 years old. Rarely have I ever had any person give me any negative stuff in the street ... and I don't foresee any problem dealing with the public now at all."

Only time will tell whether his prediction proves to be true, and whether or not the man who millions have stood behind - while millions more reviled - will adjust to life on the outside simply remains to be seen.