Original Article Published on WSJ.com
WASHINGTON— John Hinckley Jr., who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981, will be released from a psychiatric hospital after a judge on Wednesday said he could live freely but with limits on his movements, communications and internet usage.
The 103-page opinion from U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman said Mr. Hinckley’s doctors found he has “no signs of psychotic symptoms, delusional thinking or any violent tendencies,’’ and “presents no danger to himself or to others in the reasonable future if released.’’
The decision, which prompted criticism from some including the Reagan Foundation—could mark the final chapter in an event that traumatized the country. The shooting on a downtown Washington sidewalk forced Americans to confront issues involving mental illness, security, celebrity and stalking.
Mr. Hinckley and his doctors asked the judge last year to review his restrictions and allow him to live permanently outside the hospital. The Justice Department objected, and Wednesday’s ruling largely sided with Mr. Hinckley and his doctors.
Mr. Hinckley, 61 years old, may be released as early as Aug. 5 to live with his mother in Williamsburg, Va., the judge ruled. The release would come 35 years after the shooting outside the Washington Hilton severely wounded the president and three others.
In 1981, Mr. Hinckley was a troubled young man obsessed with actress Jodie Foster and her movie “Taxi Driver.” On March 30, less than three months into Mr. Reagan’s presidency, Mr. Hinckley shot the president, shortly after writing a letter saying he hoped doing so would impress the actress.
As a result of the attack, security measures around presidents were greatly increased, and many court systems changed the way they dealt with criminal defendants who are mentally ill.
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