Man Who Shot President Reagan Seeks Release From Institution

Man Who Shot President Reagan Seeks Release From Institution
Assassination Attempt on President Reagan Cliff / Flickr CC BY 2.0

The man responsible for shooting President Ronald Reagan in 1981 is seeking freedom from the mental institution he has been living in since.


John Hinckley Jr. is “clinically ready” to start a new life outside the institution, according to his lawyer Barry Levine.

“There has not been a hint of dangerous behavior,” Levine said. “Now we know the government’s dire warnings and sense of foreboding at every hearing was completely unfounded.”

Hinckley was exempted from a conviction on grounds of insanity after attempting to assassinate President Reagan. Hinckley was 25 then.

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He was subsequently institutionalized at St. Elizabeths. Over the last 12 years, he has gradually been granted more freedom.

However, Prosecutor Colleen Kennedy argued contrarily, saying that more restrictions and conditions need to be imposed to ensure the safety of Hinckley and others.

It is the seventh time the court has gathered to consider freedom for Hinckley, according to NPR.

“This is what experts call a transitional phase,” Senior U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman said. “A transition to what? Ultimately, becoming an outpatient.”

Hinckley, who will turn 60 next month, spends 17 days in a month at his 89-year-old mother’s house. Being allowed to live full-time with his mother will reflect his mental improvement and prove that he is no longer a threat, Levine said.

He lives life like an ordinary person – going to the movies, bookstore and shopping. However, US Secret Service does keep an eye on him periodically.

His older brother, Scott Hinckley, testified that John “does laundry on a religious basis” and assists in maintenance work at a Virginia church.

However, prosecutors have repeatedly spoken against granting more freedom to Hinckley. Citing a 1987 journal entry where he wrote that his psychiatrists would “never know the true John Hinckley,” they argued that he has deceptive behavior, according to NBC News.

Hearings this week will indicate whether Hinckley has shown any improvement to be given more freedom.

According to CBS Denver, he is still bound by restrictions when he travels to places. He has been banned from visiting anywhere “the President or members of Congress may be visiting.”

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