A federal judge said Monday that John Hinckley Jr., who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan four decades ago, could be released next year from all remaining sanctions if he continues to follow those rules and remains mentally stable.
US District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman said during a 90-minute court hearing that he would deliver his decision on the plan this week.
Since Hinckley moved from Washington Hospital to Williamsburg, Virginia in 2016, court-imposed restrictions have required doctors and physicians to oversee his psychiatric medication and therapy. Hinckley is barred from possessing a gun. And he couldn’t contact Reagan’s children, other victims or their families, or actress Jodie Foster, whom he was obsessed with at the time of the 1981 shooting.
23374 08: Soon after the attempted assassination of President Reagan on March 30, 1981, by John Hinckley Jr., outside the Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC, chaos surrounds the victims. Press secretary James Brady and Ego injured in shooting
Friedman said Hinckley, now 66, has shown active mental illness since 1983, no violent behavior and no interest in weapons.
“If he had not tried to kill the president, he would have been released unconditionally,” the judge said. “But after all the studies, all the analysis and all the interviews and all the experience with Mr. Hinkley, everyone is now comfortable.”
Friedman said he plans to free Hinckley from all court surveillance in June if all goes well.
A 2020 violence risk assessment by Washington’s Department of Behavioral Health concluded that Hinckley would pose no threat if he was unconditionally released from court-ordered sanctions.
The US government had previously opposed ending the sanctions. But on Monday it took a different position, with lawyers saying they would agree to an unconditional release if Hinckley abides by the rules and shows mental stability for the next nine months.
Casey Weston, a US government lawyer, said he wants to make sure Hinkley is well-adapted to live on his own after his mother’s death in July. Another concern is the imminent retirement of one of his physicians and the imminent end to a therapy group, which has provided much support and social interaction for Hinckley.
Hinckley was 25 when he shot and wounded the 40th US President outside a hotel in Washington. The shooting paralyzed Reagan’s press secretary, James Brady, who died in 2014. It also injured Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and Washington Police Officer Thomas Delhunty.
The jurors decided that Hinkley was suffering from acute psychosis and found him not guilty by reason of insanity, saying that he needed treatment and not life in prison.