Hinckley may be freed from restrictions
A U.S. federal judge said Monday that John Hinckley Jr., who tried to assassinate former U.S. president Ronald Reagan four decades ago, can be freed from all remaining restrictions next year if he continues to follow those rules and remains mentally stable.
U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman in Washington said during a 90-minute court hearing he’ll issue his ruling on the plan this week.
Since Hinckley moved to Williamsburg, Va., from a Washington hospital in 2016, court-imposed restrictions have required doctors and therapists to oversee his psychiatric medication and therapy. Hinckley has been barred from having a gun. And he can’t contact Reagan’s children, other victims or their families, or actress Jodie Foster, who he was obsessed with at the time of the 1981 shooting.
Friedman said Hinckley, now 66, has displayed no symptoms of active mental illness, no violent behaviour 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.”
Friedman said the plan is to release Hinckley from all court supervision in June.
A 2020 violence risk assessment conducted on behalf of Washington’s Department of Behavioral Health concluded Hinckley would not pose a danger if he’s unconditionally released.
The U.S. government had previously opposed ending restrictions. But it recently retained an independent expert to examine Hinckley and took a different position Monday, with attorneys saying they would agree to unconditional release if Hinckley follows the rules and shows mental stability for the next nine months.