John W. Hinckley Jr., the man who attempted to assassinate then President Ronald Reagan, will be released from psychiatric care starting from August this year.

Judge Paul L. Friedman of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia believes that Hinckley, 61,  no longer poses a threat to himself or others. The court ruled that Hinckley will be permitted to reside full-time in Williamsburg on convalescent leave.

A photo of the moment when Hinckley shot at President Reagan on March 30, 1981. Fortunately for Reagan, Hinckley's shot didn't get to him, yet it was a close call. Image Credit: Stuff
A photo of the moment when Hinckley shot at President Reagan on March 30, 1981. Fortunately for Reagan, Hinckley’s shot didn’t get to him, yet it was a close call. Image Credit: Stuff

Story of John Hinckley

John W. Hinckley Jr. was a college dropout who had withering dreams of becoming a musician. He had grown obsessed with Martin Scorsese’s 1974 film “Taxi Driver”, and had substantially identified with the main character, Travis Bickle. The main role was played by Robert De Niro, portraying a troubled man who attempts to kill a presidential candidate. Hinckley’s obsession also involved Jodie Foster’s character in the movie, a teenage prostitute.

This dangerous and unhealthy passion he felt for Foster transcended the silver screen to real life when he would write her love letters and poems leaving them at her dormitory when she was studying at Yale University, Connecticut.

Before Reagan, Hinckley would stalk then President Jimmy Carter and later be arrested on firearms charges. When Ronald Reagan was elected president, he became Hinckley’s new stalking-interest in the obsessive man’s misguided efforts to impress Jodie Foster. In 1981, Hinckley opened fire at President Reagan outside the Washington Hilton Hotel where he shot at the president and his press secretary James S. Brady, a police officer, and a secret service agent.

In 1982, Hinckley was found not guilty on account of his insanity. A verdict that horrified the nation and people of the law so much, that rules were revised to make it harder to plead insanity to seek acquittal. He spent the past 35 years at the psychiatric establishment, St. Elizabeth’s, where in his first year there he had tried to commit suicide.

In his 104-page opinion, Judge Friedman had commented that since Hinckley’s suicide attempt, there had been no signs of “active mental illness, exhibited no violent behavior, shown no interest in weapons, and demonstrated no suicidal ideation.”

Conditions of release

Hinckley is to refrain from contacting Jodie Foster, her relatives and those of deceased Brady, who passed away in 2014 due to complications with his wounds obtained in 1981. John W. Hinckley Jr. is expected to work or volunteer at least three days a week, and if he fails to comply, his absence should be reported to the authorities. He must reside with his 90-year-old mother for at least the first year and carry a cell phone tracking his movements.

He is not allowed to contact the news and is banned from using social media such as Facebook and Twitter unless given unanimous consent by his treatment team. He can only drive unaccompanied within about a 48-kilometer radius of Williamsburg but is allowed to drive himself to his monthly hospital appointments, also located in the Washington area.

Source: NY Times