-- At the start of O.J. Simpson's parole hearing in Nevada today, the board of commissioners revealed what factors led them to consider the former football star turned prisoner for parole and which elements will affect the decision.
Connie Bisbee, chairman of the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners, explained to Simpson that the commissioners will consider various "mitigating" and "aggravating" factors when deciding whether to grant parole -- including his conduct in prison, participation in inmate programs, potential letters of support and an assessment of the risk of re-offending.
Simpson became eligible for parole today. He is currently serving time in Lovelock Correctional Facility in Nevada for a 2007 kidnapping and armed robbery incident in Las Vegas. He was told that his "risk score" puts him at a "low risk." However, because of the severity of this particular offense, the board's guideline recommendations suggest they should consider all factors, Bisbee said.
"We consider everything, in terms of whether or not you're a risk to re-offend and return to our criminal justice system," she told Simpson. "When we're looking at the risk score, we're also looking at what are called aggravating and mitigating factors."
Bisbee added that one of the "aggravating" factors commissioners will take into consideration when deciding whether to grant parole is the fact that the victims in this offense indicated they feared for their safety after being threatened with a gun while the crime was committed.
However, Bisbee told Simpson there are several "mitigating," or positive, factors that will be considered, including the fact that he has no gang affiliation or involvement, doesn't have prior conviction history, has been disciplinary-free throughout the entire period of incarceration thus far, has completed a computer application course while in prison, has participated in "significant programming" at the correctional facility, has family and community support and appears to have stable plans for his release.
Simpson, who is appearing remotely via video conference from Lovelock Correctional Facility, needs four votes from commissioners to be paroled. Four commissioners will deliberate in Carson City; if they are unanimous, their decision will be final.
When answering questions from commissioners, Simpson denied that he threatened the victims with a gun and claimed the victims never felt threatened by him. But Simpson added, "I haven't made any excuses in the nine years that I've been here and I'm not trying to make an excuse now."