The Truth About O.J. Simpson's Time In Jail

The reality of what prison looks like from the inside is oftentimes quite disturbing. Given what some prisoners report, the environment can be bleak and horrific (via Prison Writers). However, that's not always the case. Some inmates may look back on their time in the pen almost like they would a vacation.

We all know about O.J. Simpson. In 1995, the former football star was charged with the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman, and acquitted on both accounts (per Britannica).

However, Simpson was later sentenced to 33 years in prison after being charged with an entirely different crime that delivered a guilty verdict this time around. In 2007, he was convicted of armed robbery, kidnapping, assault, conspiracy, and burglary for robbing two sports memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in a Vegas hotel room (via The Guardian). Following his conviction, O.J. Simpson was sent to Lovelock Correctional Facility in Nevada.

A 'cruise ship with barbed wire'

Lovelock was built in 1995 as a mixed-custody state prison for men (via Prison Insight). Today, it can house up to 1,680 inmates — up to two per each 80-square-foot cell, according to the State of Nevada Department of Corrections — who can pursue a GED, high school diploma, vocational training, or college degree while behind bars. One of its initiatives, the Structured Living Program, began as a military-influenced orientation and now combines education with physical fitness and job opportunities.

It does not exactly sound glamorous, but former Lovelock guard Jeffrey Felix described the prison as a "cruise ship with barbed wire," according to USA Today. Inmates enjoy access to sports fields, ping pong tables, exceptional food (as far as prison goes), and cable television and movies. "That prison is not like a normal prison. The food at Lovelock is very good. That prison is super duper clean," Felix reported.

"To some degree, I feel lucky that I ended up here,” Simpson told a parole board during his 2013 hearing. "And to some extent, as distasteful [as] the majority of the crimes are that's here, I find that there's no stress. I find that there's virtually no gang activity happening here. And honestly, I feel respected to some degree by most of the inmates here.”

Luxury in chains?

The former NFL champ was reported by guards to have passed his days indulging in fantasy football, gorging on junk food, and relaxing in front of the 13-inch flat screen television in his cell (via CNN). He also had several jobs at the prison, from cleaning the gym to coaching and umpiring sports teams — a natural fit for the retired pro athlete, who suffered from arthritis and injuries that kept him from playing the games himself. According to former Lovelock inmate Greg Lewis, he coached his softball team to the championship two years in a row.

"He was super competitive, as you might imagine with O.J.," Lewis said. "He'd try to get the rules bent for us. He knew the rules pretty well. He was a studious coach."

O.J. was not shy about bending the rules off the field as well, apparently. According to Felix, the former guard, Simpson received special treatment from staff and other prisoners — skipping the line during meals, having his bags full of extra food carried back to his quarters for him, and being paired with bulkier/more intimidating cellmates who could act as "bodyguards" if need be (per Bustle).

'The best prisoner they've ever had'

Yet, O.J. Simpson hardly needed the bodyguards — he was both a respected and well-behaved prisoner, as he promised guards during his arrival at Lovelock. "I gave them my word that I would try to be or would be the best prisoner they've ever had here,” he said during his 2013 parole hearing, according to USA Today. "And I think for the most part I've kept my word on that. I've not had any incidents, despite all the stories in the tabloids and everything. I haven't had one incident since I've been here.”

SImpson also claimed he was a calming influence on the prison. "I'm sure the powers here know I advise a lot of guys," he said. "I'd like to feel I keep a lot of trouble from happening."

After serving nine years of his 33-year sentence, O.J. Simpson was granted parole and released from detention in 2017 (via NPR). In late 2021, at the age of 74, he was granted early release from parole and is now "a completely free man," according to his attorney.