With OJ Simpson set to be paroled sometime in October of 2017, we decided to update this article for our readers. OJ was convicted in 2008 of armed robbery for attempting to retrieve two sports memorabilia in a Las Vegas hotel room, with two accomplices, one being armed. The four members of the Parole Board in Nevada voted unanimously today 4-0 to grant early release (Sept 29, 2022) and parole OJ.
The saying “to be poor, is a crime,” might actually be true under our justice system, whether you are white or black.
It is more likely accurate than false, that your experience with the criminal justice system is more influenced by your wealth than your culpability. If the OJ Simpson trial taught political social thinkers anything, the lesson was that “perception and the reality of positive justice” is more or less specific to your wealth than the real crime itself.
OJ at the time was a wealthy pro-American ex-NFL player who was able to afford one of the best legal team ever assembled in American Jurisprudence. OJ’s so-called legal “Dream Team” at the time was made up of the brilliant legal minds of Cochran, Shapiro, Bailey and Kardashian. The Dream Teach was able to secure a not guilty verdict by simply casting doubt on the prosecutor’s case. In fact, the most memorable legal closing phrase ever said in trial were spoken in this trial by Johnny Cochran: (“if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit’).
Still don’t believe wealth influences our experience with the justice system? Ethan Couch, colloquially known as “the affluenza teen” received a 10-year probation term for the DUI deaths of four teenagers. Ethan’s defense argued “Ethan was a product of “affluenza” and was unable to link his actions with consequences because of his parents teaching him that wealth buys privilege.” His sentence might as well have constituted a “not-guilty” verdict as many felt the sentence if it had been any regular poor American he/she would have received significant jail time.
So how much does wealth really influences your interaction with law enforcement? Take that fateful evening of June 1994, OJ’s white ford Bronco cruising down a California Freeway with more than a dozen police cars in close pursuit. Now, juxtapose that image of OJ, an affluent individual given free will to surrender on his own terms to local law enforcement. Stunningly, OJ’s wealth also made it possible for him to defy the perception of what it meant to be black, while highlighting how money can and does influence how you’re treated by the justice system.
And what about the 2003 Michael Jackson child sexual abuse allegations, when Jackson was able to choose a place and time to surrender to the Santa Barbara authorities. And how about Robert Durst whose self-defense claim lead a jury to find him not guilty of the gruesome decapitation murder of his neighbor (Durst would later be convicted in 2000 for the shooting death of his close friend Susan Berman). And, the notorious “Making a Murder” case of poor Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey who were charged with murder and locked away in prison while yet their guilt remains questionable. And finally, what about the tragic case of 22-year-old Kalief Browder whose family in 2010 was unable to raise his $3000 bail, so he spent 3 years in jail for a crime he did not commit. Kalief’s experience while locked-up was so appalling that 2 years after being released from Rikers, after all charges were finally dropped, he tragically committed suicide.
So if you ever thought about committing a crime, first, make sure you’re wealthy, because being rich and guilty under our justice system is much more advantageous than being poor and innocent.