John Hinckley, Jr., the man who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan back in 1981, will soon be released from a mental hospital in Washington, DC. On Wednesday, federal judge Paul Friedman granted Hinckley a “full-time convalescent leave,” which means he will shortly be a free man, save for a few mild restrictions.
In 2003, Judge Friedman began allowing Hinckley to make short, daytime visits to his parents’ home in Williamsburg, Virginia, and has steadily increased the permitted duration of Hinckley’s visits away from St. Elizabeth’s hospital over the years. The judge’s decision granting Hinckley the full-time leave, to begin on or after Friday, August 5, represents the culmination of the ongoing process of continually-expanding periods of release.
Many Americans of the appropriate age remember where they were that terrible day when they heard that the supremely-popular President Reagan had been gunned down barely two months into his first term. Also shot by Hinckley in the attack were DC police officer Thomas Delahanty, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy, and Reagan’s press secretary, James Brady. Although none of the victims died in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Brady’s eventual death in 2014 was attributed to the wounds he suffered that day. Reagan died in 2004 from unrelated causes, and Delahanty and McCarthy are still alive.
While prosecutors have consistently argued against Hinckley’s release, their objections have fallen on Clinton-appointee Judge Friedman’s “deaf ears.” That said, while a Virginia medical examiner ruled James Brady’s death a homicide after he passed in 2014, federal prosecutors decided against charging Hinckley with his murder, an option they had at their legal disposal.
By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large