Federal Court Drops All Restrictions on Hinckley

Would-be presidential assassin tweets in celebration
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 1, 2022 12:58 PM CDT
Updated Jun 15, 2022 4:24 PM CDT
John Hinckley to Get Unconditional Release June 15
US Marshalls escort John Hinckley Jr. as he returns to a marine base via helicopter in Quantico, Va., Aug. 8, 1981.   (AP Photo/Barry Thumma, File)

(Newser) Update: After keeping an eye on John Hinckley for decades, the federal courts dropped all restrictions Wednesday on the man who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. "After 41 years 2 months and 15 days, FREEDOM AT LAST!!!" Hinckley tweeted, per CNN. He no longer faces any restrictions on his internet activity or movements. When Hinckley opened fire in 1981, he also shot White House press secretary James Brady, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy, and Washington police officer Thomas Delahanty, per NPR. Hinckley had planned to perform a concert in New York next month, but the venue canceled the show on Wednesday, per Rolling Stone. The Market Hotel's Instagram post sounded like the decision was made reluctantly. Our story from June 1 follows:

The man who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981 is set to be released from all remaining restrictive conditions on June 15. US District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman said in September that he would free John Hinckley from restrictions on that date as long as Hinckley continued to do well. Officials say Hinckley has, and Wednesday's hearing did not alter those plans. CBS News reports federal prosecutors, mental health professionals, and lawyers for Hinckley said at the hearing that they have no worries regarding his mental state. The judge has said that Hinckley, who turned 67 on Sunday, has displayed no symptoms of active mental illness, no violent behavior, and no interest in weapons since 1983, reports the AP.

Hinckley was confined to a mental hospital in Washington for more than two decades after a jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity in shooting Reagan. But starting in 2003 Friedman began allowing Hinckley to live for longer stretches in the community with requirements like attending therapy and restrictions on where he can travel. He's been living full-time in Virginia since 2016, though still under restrictions. Those include: allowing officials access to his electronic devices, email, and online accounts; being barred from traveling to places where he knows there will be someone protected by the Secret Service; and giving three days’ notice if he wants to travel more than 75 miles from his home.

CBS News reports Hinckley was not in court, but his attorney cited the release agreement as the "culmination of decades of work." He noted Hinckley wishes he could "undo" his actions and wanted to apologize to the Reagans. Prosecutors wished Hinckley "the best" and said his decades-long transformation was indicative of the value of proper mental health care. In July, Hinckley—who plays guitar and sings and has shared his music on a YouTube channel—plans to give a concert in Brooklyn, New York. Appearances in Connecticut and Chicago for what he has called the "John Hinckley Redemption Tour" have been cancelled. (Read more John Hinckley stories.)

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