On Monday, a federal judge announced that the man who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan can be freed from all remaining restrictions next year if he continues to follow the rules and remains mentally stable.
Four decades ago John Hinckley Jr. attempted the assassination against the sitting President. In a court hearing in Washington, U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman said he’ll issue his ruling on the plan this week.
In 2016, Hinckley was moved to Williamsburg, Virginia, from a Washington hospital with court-imposed restrictions that have required doctors and therapists to oversee his psychiatric medication and therapy. The plan is expected to include that Hinckley will be barred from having a gun, he cannot contact any of Reagan’s children, or the other victims and their families. The order will also include actress Jodie Foster, who he was obsessed with at the time of the 1981 shooting.
Judge Friedman reported that Hinckley, 66, has displayed no symptoms of active mental illness, no violent behavior and no interest in weapons since 1983.
“If he hadn’t tried to kill the president, he would have been unconditionally released a long, long, long time ago,” the judge said. “But everybody is comfortable now after all of the studies, all of the analysis and all of the interviews and all of the experience with Mr. Hinckley.”
The judge estimated the plan to release Hinckley from all court supervision in June.
A violence risk assessment was conducted in 2020 on behalf of Washington’s Department of Behavioral Health. It concluded that Hinckley would not pose a danger if he’s unconditionally released from the court-ordered restrictions.
The U.S. government had previously opposed ending restrictions, however, took a different position Monday, with their attorneys saying they would agree to unconditional release if Hinckley follows the rules and shows mental stability for the next nine months.
At the time of the shooting, Hinckley was 25. His actions resulted in wounding the 40th U.S. president outside of a Washington hotel. The shooting resulted in Reagan press secretary James Brady being paralyzed. Brady died in 2014. The shooting also injured Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and Washington police officer Thomas Delahanty.
During his trial, jurors determined Hinckley was suffering from acute psychosis and found him not guilty by reason of insanity, saying he needed treatment and not life in prison.