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Federal Judge Rules Failed Reagan Assassin John Hinckley Is Now a Free Man

John Warnock Hinckley Jr., 66, shot former U.S. President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981, along with a police officer, a Secret Service agent, and former Press Secretary James Brady. Reagan was wounded, as were the officers, and Brady was left paralyzed. Hinckley’s choice of weapon was a small .22 caliber revolver, and he was later determined to be incompetent.  

Nonetheless, you can’t go around doing that sort of thing. So, Hinckley had some court-ruled restrictions placed on him ever since. He was diagnosed with acute psychosis which got him out of jail time for reasons of insanity. The jury thought treatment would be a better option.

He’s not allowed to own a gun and he can’t contact any of Ronald Reagans’ children or the families of the other two victims.

Hinckley was further ordered to steer clear of Jodie Foster with whom he has an unhealthy obsession. He mentioned her name numerous times and said he was deeply in love with the actress whom he also tormented at times.

U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman decided Hinckley has learned his lesson and just released him from all future restrictions on one condition. He has to be a good boy between now and the start of next year. His actual words were that he remain “mentally stable,” but you get the drift.

The hearing lasted a full 90-minutes and Friedman said he would detail the plans for Hinckley’s release in the coming weeks. Hinckley resides in Williamsburg, Virginia where he has remained under close observation by mental health professionals and has attended regular group sessions. 

Friedman said, “If he hadn’t tried to kill the president, he would have been unconditionally released a long, long, long time ago. 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. Hinckly.”

Last year, the Department of Behavioral Health determined that Hinckley was in no further need of supervision and that if released, wouldn’t pose a threat to anyone.

A U.S. government attorney, Kacie Weston, said their primary concern at the moment is if Hinckley can live on his own. He’s always lived with his mother, who passed away in July. Over the years, Hinckley has gained enormous confidence in one of his therapists. This therapist is set to retire, which would also end the therapy group sessions that have been so helpful.

Following his restrictive release, it’ll be necessary for social workers to conduct regular, timely visits for whatever frequency and length of time the judge determines, but this is being done for Hinckley’s protection and no one else’s. 

News of Hinckley’s upcoming release hasn’t raised any eyebrows in D.C.with the enormous amount of crisis consuming everyone’s time, so it appears as though Friedman’s ruling won’t be challenged, even by Jodie Foster who isn’t overly concerned. 

And so ends another chapter in American history, and for the most part, no one even noticed the closing of the book.