Presidential assailant John W. Hinckley Jr. has asked a federal judge for permission to leave St. Elizabeths Hospital for unsupervised visits with his parents, including a series of overnight stays, The Washington Post reports.
If Hinckley and his attorneys get their way, it would mark the first time in more than 20 years that the man who shot President Ronald Reagan would get to travel off the psychiatric hospital’s grounds without the staff keeping watch on him.
Hinckley, 48, has lived on secured wards of the city-run hospital since 1982, when he was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the March 1981 shootings of Reagan and three others. In court papers unsealed yesterday, his attorneys contended that his mental health is much improved and that increasing his freedoms is a “critical component” of his treatment.
In the past three years, Hinckley has made several staff-supervised trips around Washington with family and friends. Those trips took place after Hinckley prevailed in a court fight over supervised outings. This time, too, a court battle is looming, with a judge setting a hearing on the matter for next Tuesday.
Federal prosecutors and the D.C. Department of Mental Health, which runs St. Elizabeths, have opposed Hinckley’s request, saying that he is not ready for such a large step and that it would create unnecessary risk.
But Hinckley’s attorneys wrote in court papers that there is no reason to treat Hinckley as dangerous.
“It is undisputed that Mr. Hinckley’s psychosis and depression have been in full remission and that he has shown no symptoms thereof for over a decade,” attorney Barry Wm. Levine wrote. “Mr. Hinckley does not pose a risk of danger to himself or others now or in the reasonable future.”