John Hinckley Jr., The Man Who Attempted To Assassinate Ronald Reagan, Will Be Released From Custody

John Hinckley Jr., the man who attempted to assassinate former President Ronald Reagan in an effort to impress actress Jodie Foster, is set to be released after spending 35 years at St. Elizabeth’s hospital, a government-run psychiatric institution, where he has been in custody since the 1981 shooting.

John Hinckley Jr.’s attempt to assassinate Ronald Reagan was the culmination of a years-long obsession with Jodie Foster that Hinckley developed after watching the 1976 film Taxi Driver, in which Foster plays a teen prostitute. The idea to kill a president in order to impress the young actress also came from the movie — protagonist Travis Bickle (played by Robert DeNiro) plots to assassinate a presidential candidate after becoming obsessed with one of his campaign volunteers.

On March 30, 1981, John Hinckley Jr. fired six shots as president Reagan as he left the Hilton Hotel in Washington D.C. The shots wounded three people, police officer Thomas Delahanty, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy, and press secretary James Brady, who was shot in the right side of his head but ultimately survived. None of Hinckley Jr.’s bullets hit Reagan directly, but the president was wounded when a bullet ricocheted off of his limousine and hit him in the chest.

After an eight-week trial, John Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was remanded to St. Elizabeth’s hospital in August of 1981, where he lived full-time until 1999, when he was granted supervised visits to his parents’ house in Williamsburg, Virginia. Hinckley Jr. had originally applied for permission to leave hospital grounds to visit his family in 1987, but a search of his room turned up letters and photographs that proved he was still obsessed with Jodie Foster, and the initial request was denied.

In 2000, he was granted longer, unsupervised visits at his family’s home, but those were eventually revoked due to Hinckley smuggling materials relating to Foster back into the hospital. Visits outside the hospital were once again renewed in 2005, and they have gradually been extended to 17 days a month and the allowance of a driver’s license.

U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman has recently ruled that John Hinckley Jr. no longer poses a threat to himself or anyone else and should, therefore, be allowed to be released from St. Elizabeth’s hospital, providing he adheres to all restrictions given to him upon his release, reports the Washington Post.

“After thirty-four years as an inpatient at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, and in view of the foregoing findings, and the successful completion of over 80… visits to Williamsburg over the last 10 years, the Court finds that Mr. Hinckley has received the maximum benefits possible in the in-patient setting. The court finds by the preponderance of the evidence that Mr. Hinckley will not be a danger to himself or to others if released on full-time convalescent leave to Williamsburg under the conditions proposed.”

The conditions of his release include limiting Hinckley Jr. to a 50-mile radius of Williamsburg, turning over any requested information about his mobile phone or cars he will be driving, and prohibiting him from creating any social media accounts, tampering with his computer’s browser history, and uploading any content to the internet. However, He will not be forced to wear an ankle monitor. Any relapse or breach of the terms of his release could see John Hinckley Jr. returned to St. Elizabeth’s.

According to Rolling Stone, the long-time attorney of John Hinckley, Barry W. Levine, said that he hopes the judge’s finding that Hinckley is no longer a threat to anyone eases the minds of concerned citizens and allows them to see that “the mental health system and the judicial system worked and worked well.”

“Mr. Hinckley recognizes that what he did was horrific. But it’s crucial to understand that what he did was not an act of evil. It was an act caused by mental illness. He is profoundly sorry and he wishes he could take back that day, but he can’t. And he has lived for decades recognizing the pain he caused his victims, their families, and the nation.”

Should John Hinckley Jr. be released from custody, and allowed to live his life as a normal citizen? Sound off in the comments.

[Photo by Evan Vucci/AP Images]