Hinckley, who shot Reagan, may be freed
A federal judge said Monday that John Hinckley Jr., who tried to assassinate 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 that he’ll issue his ruling on the plan this week.
Since Hinckley moved to Williamsburg, Virginia, 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, with whom he was obsessed at the time of the 1981 shooting.
Friedman said Hinckley, now 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.”
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 that 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.
Kacie Weston, an attorney for the U.S. government, said it wants to make sure Hinckley can adapt to living on his own for the first time in 40 years.
He recently moved out his mother’s house. She died in July. Attorneys did not say where Hinckley is currently living.