The man who shot President Ronald Reagan has been granted full-time release from a mental hospital where he has been treated since the 1981 attack, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
John Hinckley Jr., who shot Reagan to impress actress Jodie Foster, should be released from Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., no earlier than August 5, U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman announced.
In a 103-page order, Friedman declared that Hinckley, now 61, does not pose a danger to himself or others and should be released to the custody of his 90-year-old mother in Virginia.
Hinckley’s psychosis and depression “are in full and sustained remission and have been for more than 20 years” and he is “clinically ready” to leave the psychiatric facility, the ruling said.
He has been on limited release from the hospital since 2003, when he began visiting his parents’ home in Williamsburg.
Over the years, he has been granted more time away and has been spending 17 days a month with his mother at her home in a gated community.
“Mr. Hinckley, by all accounts, has shown no signs of psychotic symptoms, delusional thinking, or any violent tendencies,” the judge wrote.
“The court finds that Mr. Hinckley has received the maximum benefits possible in the inpatient setting (and) that inpatient treatment is no longer clinically warranted or beneficial,” the ruling said.
Hinckley’s physicians have contended for several years that their patient was rehabilitated and posed no threat to society.
Chaos outside the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., after John Hinckley Jr., opened fire in 1981. (Getty)
He was found not guilty by reason of insanity for the March 30, 1981 shooting outside the Washington, D.C., Hilton Hotel that seriously wounded the president, and three others, including press secretary James Brady, who was left paralyzed. He died in 2014.
Hinckley left a long and rambling letter to Foster, whom he had been stalking for months, saying he carried out the shootings to win her respect.
“Contrary to the judge’s decision, we believe John Hinckley is still a threat to others and we strongly oppose his release, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute said in a statement.
The judge set strict rules for Hinckley’s full-time release. He must attend individual and group therapy, he must volunteer or work at least three hours a day, he is barred from speaking to journalists, and he must present himself to doctors each month for evaluation.
He also is under surveillance by the Secret Service.