Tags: John Hinckley Jr. | release | Mental Hospital | judge | Ronald Reagan

Judge Weighs Releasing John Hinckley Jr. From Mental Hospital

By    |   Wednesday, 13 May 2015 03:29 PM

A federal judge is faced with the decision of whether to let President Ronald Reagan's would-be assassin, John Hinckley Jr., leave the psychiatric hospital where he lives for good.

"I knew this day would come, but it doesn't make the decision any easier," said U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman at the end a hearing on Tuesday, BBC News is reporting.

"That's why I get paid the big bucks," Judge Friedman added, in jest.

In 1981, Hinckley shot Reagan as well as three others — police officer Thomas Delahanty, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy, and White House Press Secretary James Brady.

While no one was killed, Brady became paralyzed as a result. When Brady died in 2014 at the age of 73, his death was declared a homicide by authorities.

Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity by a jury, and he lives at St. Elizabeths Hospital, outside of Washington. He has been allowed to leave the hospital for visits with his mother in Williamsburg, Virginia, for 17 days a month, when he is also allowed to visit friends and local vendors.

The big question is whether someone who has been declared clinically insane is able to return to society safely.

Hinckley's lawyer, Barry Levine, told Friedman that "there's no evidence that he would be dangerous," adding that "the risk is low."

However, prosecutor Colleen Kennedy argued that he still needs to be monitored.

"He's committed a horrific crime, shooting four people," Kennedy said during the hearing. "We know Mr. Hinckley has been extremely violent in the past. He is still mentally ill."

Charles Ewing, a professor at the University at Buffalo Law School and insanity law expert, told the BBC that "you should not punish someone who's committed a crime while they're insane. That goes back to early Roman law."

"Ordinarily when someone gets to this point, it's very difficult to say they're a continued danger," Ewing explained.

However, he contends that this situation seems more like it's "a political issue more than a psychological issue."

"Because of the nature of the offense, people don't feel like he should ever be released," he added.

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A federal judge is faced with the decision of whether to let President Ronald Reagan's would-be assassin, John Hinckley Jr., leave the psychiatric hospital where he lives for good.
John Hinckley Jr., release, Mental Hospital, judge, Ronald Reagan
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2015-29-13
Wednesday, 13 May 2015 03:29 PM
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