OJ Simpson's Parole Hearing From 'Made in America'

Simpson said in the 15-minute hearing in 2013 that he wasn’t like other inmates

ESPN’s Oscar-winning documentary “OJ: Made in America” opens with stunning footage of a 2013 hearing in which Nevada Parole Commissioner Susan Jackson asks OJ Simpson about that time he was arrested in 1994.

Simpson appears shocked that Jackson, like almost everyone else in America, doesn’t know the details already. The 1994 arrest was for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. Simpson was acquitted the next year, but sentenced to 33 years in prison in 2007 for trying to steal sports memorabilia he said was stolen from him.

After the hearing, Simpson was granted parole on some charges. But he was ineligible for parole on the others, which means he will remain behind bars for the time being.

The 15-minute video of the full hearing (above) includes many details that that the first episode of “OJ: Made in America” does not. Simpson begins by saying that when he first arrived at Nevada’s Lovelock Correctional Center, he vowed to be “the best person that they’ve ever had here.” He says he thinks he’s succeeded.

“I’ve not had any instances, despite all those stories in the tabloids and everything,” he says. “I haven’t had one incident since I’ve been here.”

He also says many inmates have told him about robberies they pulled — “even one guy who robbed a gun shop, which I think took a lot of guts.”

Simpson says he isn’t like the other inmates, who tried to steal other peoples’ possessions.

“My crime was trying to retrieve for my family my own property, property that was stolen from me,” he said, adding that California officials have ruled that it did in fact belong to him.

Simpson also says he missed his sister’s funeral and two of his children’s college graduations while behind bars. He say he deeply regrets confronting the men he believes stole from him.

“I wasn’t as civil as I should have been,” he said.

He is asked if alcohol was a factor, and concedes it might have been — but says he never had a drinking problem.

“I was celebrating a wedding and I had been drinking all day,” he said. “I didn’t feel that I was drunk but I also didn’t think that I was capable of driving an automobile.”

In an interview with TheWrap on Thursday, former Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti, who led the unsuccessful double-murder case against Simpson, said he thought Simpson’s Nevada sentence was too harsh. He said it seemed like “payback” for Simpson avoiding prison in the murder case.

“Our job is to seek justice,” Garcetti said. “Justice was not served when OJ Simpson was acquitted. But in my mind, justice was not served either when he was sentenced to 33 years for the crimes for which he was convicted.”

How 'OJ: Made In America' Is Better Than Any Other OJ Simpson Retrospective (Photos)

  • 22 years removed from the Trial of the Century, and just a few weeks removed from “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” you may wonder if there’s anything “O.J.: Made In America” can say that hasn’t been said already. Director Ezra Edelman once thought the same thing, but his five-part epic has expanded the scope of this one trial to include 50 years of American culture and conflict.

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  • Edelman’s documentary does not touch the murder of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman until Part 3. The first two parts of the documentary connect Simpson’s rise to stardom with major moments in African-American history, such as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination in 1968, the same year as Simpson’s Heisman win.

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  • Another major sports moment in 1968 was Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ protest at the Mexico City Olympics, which led to them being ostracized by a predominantly white American media and society. Around the same period, Simpson was becoming a beloved figure at USC, which at the time had a student body that was overwhelmingly white and conservative.

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  • Edelman continues to compare the acceptance and idolization Simpson enjoyed from white America thanks to his clean image to the revulsion more counter-cultural black figures received, such as when Muhammad Ali refused to fight in the Vietnam War. Ali’s coincidental passing a week before this film’s premiere makes the comparison of the two men feel even more immediate.

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  • All of this is placed over archive footage of Simpson’s interviews and commercials, which reconstruct the public image many may have forgotten he once had. Edelman constructed a magnificent portrayal of how black celebrities navigated the minefield of racial tension in the ’60s and ’70s. Some chose to fight the status quo. Others, like O.J., chose to become a part of it. And this is all just in Part 1.

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  • In Part 2, Edelman digs into the many warning signs that might have saved Nicole Brown’s life had they been heeded. Interviews with Brown’s friends reveal a history of domestic abuse that she suffered at Simpson’s hands. Again, the film ties O.J. to social issues of the present, namely the rash of domestic violence incidents that have happened in sports recently.

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  • Part 2 also focuses on the increased tensions between police and black communities in L.A., leading up to the Rodney King riots. Combined with Brown’s abuse, Edelman exposes how society often turns a blind eye to injustice. When that happens for too long, the worst outcomes can happen.

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  • Parts 3 and 4 focus on the trial, and it is here where “Made In America” becomes a companion to FX’s “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson” rather than a rehash. Interviews with the failed prosecutors, the successful defense attorneys, and the jurors highlight just how masterfully “The People v. O.J. Simpson” captured the driving social and legal forces that led to Simpson’s acquittal.

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  • Another sobering moment comes in Part 4, when the film shows grisly crime scene pictures of the murder. With this shot, Edelman pauses his societal examination to give weight to the violent and tragic loss of two innocent lives that lie at the core of this moment in history.

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  • Each part of the series builds upon the previous. Part 1 shows the celebrity culture that protected O.J. from consequence in Part 2. The racial injustice in Part 2 shows how a desire for revenge pervaded the predominantly black jury in Parts 3 and 4. And all the previous parts make O.J.’s hard fall in Part 5 even more difficult to watch.

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  • “Made In America” shows that O.J. Simpson and the social firestorm that surrounded him his entire adult life is a reflection of modern America. It is a reflection of our prejudice, our media, and our desire to turn famous but flawed people into ideals.

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As magnificent as “The People v. O.J. Simpson” was, “Made In America” brings a scope to the infamous murder trial that has never been attempted before

22 years removed from the Trial of the Century, and just a few weeks removed from “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” you may wonder if there’s anything “O.J.: Made In America” can say that hasn’t been said already. Director Ezra Edelman once thought the same thing, but his five-part epic has expanded the scope of this one trial to include 50 years of American culture and conflict.

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