A “cruise ship with barbed wire” is how a retired correctional officer describes the prison where O.J. Simpson has been for almost nine years.
Simpson is set to appear before the Nevada Board of Parole Thursday and could be released from prison as soon as Oct. 1. But Jeffrey Felix, a retired correctional officer, said Simpson’s life is more than tolerable at Lovelock Correctional Center.
“Inmates in Nevada have a saying, ‘Lovelock is easy time,’ ” Felix told USA TODAY Sports. “I mean, that prison is not like a normal prison. The food at Lovelock is very good. That prison is super duper clean.’’
The amenities at the medium-security prison include a gym, softball field, volleyball courts and ping pong, according to Felix, who said inmates also have access to movies and cable TV.
“There’s plenty for him to do at that prison and he’s always happy,’’ said Felix, who retired from the Lovelock prison in 2015 after 20 years at the facility. “O.J.’s been happy there since day one. He’s always in a good mood, always laughing, always telling jokes.’’
Simpson voiced no complaints about life in Lovelock during a 2013 parole hearing — when he was granted parole for kidnapping and lesser counts stemming from the holdup — even though he said he found the crimes committed by the majority of his fellow inmates to be “distasteful.’’
“To some degree I feel lucky that I ended up here,’’ Simpson told parole board members. “…And to some extent as distasteful 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.’’
At the time, Simpson said, he was working in the gym and responsible for disenfecting workout equipment and mopping floors. He also said he was coaching sports teams and umpiring game and counseled other inmates.
“I’m sure the powers here know that I advise a lot of guys,’’ he said, “and I like to feel that I’ve kept a lot of trouble from happening since I’ve been here by getting involved in some of the conflicts that some of the individuals here have had.’’
But Simpson noted he had missed the funeral of his sister Carmelita Durio in 2009, missed the college graduation of his two youngest children — Sydney and Justin — and missed many birthday celebrations.
Of the five years he had spent in prison to that point, Simpson said, “They’ve been somewhat illuminating at times and painful at times.’’
Simpson also told parole board members that he had no writeups for behavior violations and Felix said that’s still the case. At the time of the hearing, Simpson recalled 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. “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.’’