US government lawyers have indicated they will not oppose a plan next month to lift all remaining restrictions on John Hinckley Jr., the man who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981.
US District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman in Washington ruled last year that Hinckley could be released unconditionally in June if he continues to abide by the rules imposed on him and remains mentally stable while continuing to live in Williamsburg, Virginia .
Hinckley, 66, has indeed remained mentally stable and has not violated any conditions, according to a letter filed by US attorneys with the court on Thursday. This finding was based on letters from the Washington Department of Health, which oversaw Hinckley’s care.
“As a result, the government has found no evidence that Mr. Hinckley’s unconditional release should not be granted as described,” the US attorneys’ letter said.
A court hearing is scheduled for June 1st.
Hinckley was 25 when he shot and wounded the 40th US President outside a Washington hotel. The shooting paralyzed Reagan press secretary James Brady, who died in 2014. She also injured Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and Washington police officer Thomas Delahanty.
Hinckley suffered from an acute psychosis. When the jury found him not guilty by insanity, they said he needed treatment, not life in prison.
Such an acquittal meant Hinckley could not be blamed or punished for what he did, legal experts said. Hinckley was ordered to live at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington.
In the 2000s, Hinckley began visiting his parents’ home in Williamsburg. A 2016 court order gave him permission to live with his mother full-time after experts said his mental illness had been in remission for decades.
Hinckley has had to live under a long list of restrictions that the judge has eased over the years. For example, Hinckley was granted the right to publicly display his artwork and was allowed to move out of his mother’s house.
She died in July. He signed a lease for a one-bedroom apartment in the area last year and started living there with his cat, Theo, according to court documents.
In recent years, Hinckley has sold items he found at estate sales, flea markets, and consignment shops at a booth at an antique store. He has also shared his music on YouTube.
There is no longer a ban on him speaking to the media. But when Rolling Stone magazine asked for an interview with Hinckley to talk about his music, Hinckley declined, according to court documents.
“Although he felt a degree of temptation at the lure of an interview with the most sacred, storied publication of his generation, Mr. Hinckley sought the advice of his treatment team and therapy group before deciding to decline the invitation,” reads a report on Hinckley’s welfare filed in court last year. Hinckley forwarded the application to his attorney.
Hinckley still has to give three days’ notice if he wants to travel more than 75 miles (120 kilometers) from home. Perhaps in anticipation of an unconditional release, Hinckley even tweeted that he plans to attend a concert in New York City in early July.
Other restrictions include preventing Hinckley from traveling to places where he knows someone is being protected by the Secret Service. He must not use illegal drugs or alcohol. And he cannot contact his victims or their families. He is also unable to contact actress Jodie Foster, with whom he was obsessed at the time of filming in 1981.
Hinckley’s attorney, Barry Levine, said last year that Hinckley’s unconditional release would show that “with good support and access to treatment, people stricken by mental illness can actually become productive members of society.”
But the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute said in a statement last year that it was “distressed” by the court’s plan.
“Contrary to the judge’s decision, we believe that John Hinckley still poses a threat to others and we strongly oppose his release,” the foundation said.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/ap-ronald-reagan-washington-james-brady-department-of-health-b2083844.html US attorneys are not opposed to lifting Hinckley’s restrictions