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O.J. raised as example of unnecessary Nevada prison costs

CARSON CITY — O.J. Simpson’s imprisonment in Nevada for convictions stemming from his 2007 robbery of two memorabilia collectors at Palace Station was raised at a legislative hearing Tuesday as an example of questionable policies leading to unnecessary incarceration costs.

State Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, chairman of the Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice, said the 66-year-old inmate at the Lovelock Correctional Center has been identified as one of the least likely people to reoffend.

But Simpson is costing Nevada taxpayers thousands of dollars a year to remain in prison, not to mention what his medical issues might be adding to the overall cost of his incarceration, Segerblom said.

“There has got to be a better way to deal with a crime like Mr. Simpson committed,” Segerblom said.

Thomas Pitaro, one of Simpson’s attorneys, said the former football star and actor is costing Nevada taxpayers at least $225,000 in incarceration costs each year.

The state should consider the costs of probation versus imprisonment for inmates, especially elderly inmates, when making decisions at sentencing, he said.

But the discussion prompted a strong reaction from other members of the panel, including Eric Spratley, a lieutenant with the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office. Spratley noted that Simpson was 60 when he committed what he said are serious, violent crimes.

Simpson is not an example of an elderly, nonviolent offender, Spratley said.

Both Spratley and Douglas County District Attorney Mark Jackson asked that the whole discussion be tabled.

But Segerblom said Nevada has gone overboard with its tough sentencing guidelines, creating a system that is too inflexible.

The state could save $25,000 a year in prison costs if eligible offenders were sentenced to home confinement with an ankle bracelet, he said.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801.

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