President Reagan’s would-be assassin to be released

Would be presidential assassin John Hinckley Jr. has been incarcerated at St. Elizabeth's Hospital since 1981, gradually earning more and more privileges. He has now been granted release to live in the Williamsburg area.

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President Ronald Reagan waves just before he is shot outside a Washington hotel on March 30, 1981. From left are secret service agent Jerry Parr, in raincoat, who pushed Reagan into the limousine, press secretary James Brady, who was seriously wounded; Reagan; Michael Deaver, Reagan’s aide; an unidentified policeman; Washington policeman Thomas K. Delahanty, who was shot; and secret service agent Timothy J. McCarthy, who was shot in the stomach. (White House photo)
President Ronald Reagan waves just before he is shot outside a Washington hotel on March 30, 1981. From left are secret service agent Jerry Parr, in raincoat, who pushed Reagan into the limousine, press secretary James Brady, who was seriously wounded; Reagan; Michael Deaver, Reagan’s aide; an unidentified policeman; Washington policeman Thomas K. Delahanty, who was shot; and secret service agent Timothy J. McCarthy, who was shot in the stomach. (White House photo)

WASHINGTON , July 26, 2016 – Federal Judge Paul L. Friedman has ruled that John Hinckley Jr. could be released from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C.  Hinckley Jr., has been held at the hospital since his failed attempt to kill President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

At the time of his trial he was found not guilty by reason of insanity and has been serving his sentence at St. Elizabeth hospital in Washington D.C.  The would-be assassin, now aged 61, will be released on full-time convalescence leave on or after August 5th of this year.

M.r Hinkley is already living outside the institution up to 17 days per month, living with his mother during that time.


Judge Friedman ruled that Hinckley “does not pose a danger to himself or others” and he also believes that Hinckley’s psychotic disorder has been in remission for more than two decades. The hospital is required to advocate for his release if they feel he has recovered sufficiently to be released.

John Hinckley Jr. shot at Reagan with a 22 caliber Röhm RG-14 revolver as the president left the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C.  in 1981, puncturing his lung and nearly missing his heart.  The president was hit with a bullet the ricocheted off the presidential limousine.

Three other men were injured, including former Press Secretary James Brady, Washington policeman Thomas K. Delahanty and secret service agent Timothy J. McCarthy, who was shot in the stomach.

Secret service agent Jerry Parr, who has since died, was credited with saving the President’s life. Former First Lady called Parr “one of my true heroes.”

“Without Jerry looking out for Ronnie on March 30, 1981, I would have certainly lost my best friend and roommate to an assassin’s bullet,” she said. “Jerry was not only one of the finest Secret Service agents to ever serve this country, but one of the most decent human beings I’ve ever known. He was humble but strong, reserved but confident, and blessed with a great sense of humor. It is no wonder that he and my husband got along so well.”

The VA medical examiner ruled his death as a homicide, resulting from a Hinckley’s shooting rampage.

During his arrest Hinckley told police officers he wanted to kill Reagan to prove his love to Hollywood actress Jodie Foster. At the time, Hinckley wrote to the actress:

“The reason I’m going ahead with this attempt now is because I cannot wait any longer to impress you,” he wrote. “This letter is being written only an hour before I leave for the Hilton Hotel. Jodie, I’m asking you to please look into your heart and at least give the chance, with this historical deed, to gain your love and respect.”

The decision by Judge Friedman comes just four months after former First Lady Nancy Reagan died. Responses to the decision by the judge has come from both sides of the aisle.

Donald Trump believes Hinckley should still be in prison.

Retired police officer Bill Williams believes keeping criminally insane people off the street will jumpstart criminal justice reform.

Hinckley will be a free man but has strict guidelines he must follow. Included in the Judge’s 103 page opinion are the following guidelines:

  • He must carry a GPS enabled phone whenever he is away from his mother’s home, but no tracking devices need to be installed in his cars. He must notify his treatment team before going to any private residences.
  • He must travel to D.C. once a month for mental health treatment. His must provide detailed information about his travel to D.C. including his specific route and time of departure, but he can travel by himself. If he is delayed by more than 30 minutes, he needs to notify his treatment team.
  • He must have weekly phone calls with his health care professionals as well as individual and group therapy in Williamsburg. He also does monthly music therapy sessions. He has expressed an interest in recording an album.
  • He is expected to find a volunteer position or a job which must be approved by his mental health team.
  • He cannot speak with media. Any media contact by him or his family will constitute a violation of his release.
  • No drugs, no weapons.
  • No contact with the family members of his victims, which include the Reagan family, Brady family, Thomas Delahanty or Timothy McCarthy.
  • He cannot travel to areas where current or former presidents, Congress or senior executives or “United States Secret Service protectees” are found.
  • He can use the internet but cannot Google himself, research weapons, porn, or his victims.
  • He may not set-up any social media accounts without unanimous permission from his treatment team.
  • He must live with his mother in Williamsburg for the first-year of his full-time release and after that, following an assessment by his team, he may reside alone or with roommates within a 30 mile radius of Williamsburg.

Some on the right are blaming the Obama and Clinton coalition for allowing this to happen, citing that Judge Friedman was appointed by former President Bill Clinton.

Hinckley Jr. is not the first “would-be” assassin to be released from prison. Lynette Fromme, who attempted to assassinate Gerald Ford was released from prison in 2009 after serving 34 years.

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