John Hinckley, who attempted to assassinate former President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, will get an unconditional release, a judge ruled Wednesday.
The 67-year-old will be released on June 15, said U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman in the Wednesday order. Previously, the judge said Hinckley would be released as long as he remained on good behavior.
“John Hinckley tried to kill the president of the United States. He came very close to doing so. We came to learn President Reagan was very close to death. James Brady was damaged for life,” he said Wednesday. Brady, a former White House press secretary, was paralyzed in the attack.
The judge added: “In 1981, over 40 years ago, John Hinckley was a profoundly troubled young man. He had acute psychosis. … He began to stalk the president. The president [at the time] was Jimmy Carter. He never got close to Jimmy Carter. But he did get close to Ronald Reagan.”
Friedman said Hinckley has been in “sustained remission” for over 25 years and has “followed every condition imposed by the court,” adding that he has “demonstrated self-awareness and responsibility for his mental illness.”
“We are not losing sight of what he did 40 years ago,” the judge continued. “He’s been scrutinized, he’s passed every test. I am confident Mr. Hinckley will do well in the years remaining to him. I hope the public will understand, he has made such progress, and he’s not a danger anymore.”
Last year, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute issued a statement saying it opposes Hinckley’s unconditional release.
“Contrary to the judge’s decision, we believe John Hinckley is still a threat to others and we strongly oppose his release,” the foundation said. “Our hope is that the Justice Department will file a motion with the court leading to a reversal of the decision.”
Hinckley was confined to a mental hospital in Washington for more than two decades after a jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity for shooting Reagan, who was injured in the incident. Starting in 2003, Friedman began allowing Hinckley to live for longer stretches in the community with requirements like attending therapy and restrictions on where he can travel.
Hinckley has been living full-time in Virginia since 2016, though still under restrictions including: allowing officials to access electronic devices, email, and online accounts; being prevented from traveling to areas where he knows there will be an official or family member protected by U.S. Secret Service; and giving notice if he wants to travel more than 75 miles from his home.
Hinckley was 25 when he carried out the attack. Jurors later said he was suffering from severe mental problems and found him not guilty by reason of insanity, saying he required treatment and not life in prison.
“If he hadn’t tried to kill a president he would have been released unconditionally a long time ago,” Friedman wrote in September in an attempt to rationalize his release.
According to a Twitter account that appears to belong to Hinckley, he is scheduled to hold a music concert in Brooklyn on July 8.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times