Two years ago, John Hinckley, the Jodie Foster-infatuated gunman who shot President Ronald Reagan, Press Secretary James Brady a Secret Service agent and a D.C. policeman, was released from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. He’d been in treatment there since being found not guilty by reason of insanity in the 1981 shooting. Since he got out, he’s technically been on “convalescent leave” and has continued to receive treatment and monitoring (though that regimen seems less than rigorous).
James Brady was critically injured in the shooting that day and was permanently disabled. When he died in 2014, the cause of death was ruled a homicide, a result of the bullet Hinckley put in his brain. Yet federal prosecutors refused to charge Hinckley with Brady’s murder.
Prosecutors pointed out that any jury in a murder trial would be directed to consider that he was already found to be legally insane at the time of the incident and “the government would be precluded now from arguing that Hinckley was sane at the time he shot Mr. Brady.”
Now, Hinckley’s asked for an unconditional release.
The court records reviewed by News4 show Hinckley made a motion for “unconditional release” from his commitment in an April 30 hearing before a D.C. judge. The filing from prosecutors said Hinckley cited a code in D.C. law allowing people to seek release or changes in the conditions of their custody. …
In their filings to the judge in Hinckley’s case, federal prosecutors acknowledge they hired an examiner to review Hinckley’s “present mental condition and whether or not he would pose a danger to himself or others if released under the conditions proposed by officials with the Department of Behavioral Health.”
Insane at the time of the shooting or not, Hinckley killed one man and wounded three more. He very nearly assassinated the President of the United States. The fact that he’s walking free these days is grating enough. It doesn’t seem too much to ask that, at the very least, he be required to continue treatment and monitoring for the rest of his life.