Reagan shooter John Hinckley granted unconditional release 41 years after assassination attempt

Hinckley, now 67, shot then-president Ronald Reagan in 1981

Nathan Place
New York
Thursday 02 June 2022 08:46 BST
John Hinckley nears full freedom 41 years after shooting President Ronald Reagan

John Hinckley Jr, the man who shot former president Ronald Reagan, has been granted unconditional release after four decades.

US District Judge Paul Friedman announced the decision on Wednesday, ruling Mr Hinckley to be released on 15 June. Until now, the would-be assassin has been living under supervision outside a mental health facility in Williamsburg, Virginia.

In 1981, Mr Hinckley shot then-president Reagan outside a hotel in Washington DC. He also wounded a Secret Service agent, a police officer, and White House press secretary James Brady, who remained paralysed for the rest of his life.

At his trial in 1982, Mr Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity. For the next three decades, he was held at the mental institution St Elizabeths Hospital in DC. In 2016, he was released to live at his mother’s house in Williamsburg, Virginia, under numerous strict conditions.

In 2021, Judge Friedman ruled that Mr Hinckley would be fully released the following year, provided that he continued his good behavior. On Wednesday, the judge concluded that he had.

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

The federal judge says Mr Hinckley has shown no signs of active mental illness, violent behavior, or interest in firearms since 1983.

Prosecutors had initially resisted Mr Hinckley’s unconditional release, but last year they reached a deal with his lawyers for him to be freed – as long as he continued to show mental stability and follow restrictions on his behavior. US Attorney Kacie Weston believes that he has.

“The Government has found no evidence to suggest that Mr Hinckley’s unconditional release should not be granted,” Ms Weston wrote in a recent court filing.

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