John Hinckley Jr., the man who shot former President Ronald Reagan in 1981, will be released from prison in 2022. Hinckley shot the president and several other people in the vicinity three decades ago and later confessed to the attack, saying that it was motivated by delusion. Now, according to a report by Business Insider, he will be granted "unconditional release."
"I'm going to after all these years grant unconditional release to Mr. Hinckley," said Judge Paul L. Friedman in a court hearing on Monday. The U.S. District Court judge for the District of Columbia said that the only consideration left is Hinckley's reaction to the recent death of his mother, which some fear may trigger his delusional tendency. Hinckley pleaded insanity after the 1981 shooting, claiming that he had somehow come to believe that assassinating the president would help him strike up a romance with child actress Jodie Foster.
"He was ravaged by mental illness at the time," said Hinckley's attorney, Barry William Levine. "It was that mental illness that was the basis of his acquittal." Hinckley was placed in a psychiatric facility in Washington, D.C. called St. Elizabeth's hospital after the attack, but Friedman noted that he has been given more freedom in small increments over the years.
Hinckley has even been living at home with his mother in Williamsburg, Virginia since 2016, with no concerning incidents so far. U.S. Attorney Kacie McCoy Weston agreed with Friedman and Levine that the release was appropriate, though both Weston and Levine asked for it to be pushed back to June of 2022.
"The ball is completely in Mr. Hinckley's hands," Weston said. Hinckley also reportedly has support from staff members at St. Elizabeth's Hospital and other experts who have spoken to him over the years. On Monday, Friedman said that Hinckley was one of the most studied patients in the history of the institution.
"If he hadn't tried to kill the president he would have been granted unconditional release a long, long time ago," the judge said. Friedman also noted that he has been adjudicating Hinckley's case for many years, and that he "should be able to live out his life productively in Williamsburg interacting with people doing his art, his music, and all will be right with the world." No public comments from Hinckley himself were published.