updated 1/16/2004 5:35:14 PM ET 2004-01-16T22:35:14

The Justice Department will not appeal a judge’s decision allowing John W. Hinckley Jr., the man who shot President Ronald Reagan, to visit his parents without the presence of staff from a mental hospital.

“While the Justice Department has decided not to file an appeal of the court order, the department will continue to work to ensure that there are significant restrictions imposed by the court, which continues to have jurisdiction, on any conditional releases in the future,” Channing Phillips, chief of staff of the U.S. attorney’s office here, said Friday.

In a 50-page ruling Dec. 17, U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman granted Hinckley six unsupervised visits in the Washington area. However, he attached some strict conditions and rejected Hinckley’s request to travel to his parents’ home in Williamsburg, Va., about three hours south of the nation’s capital.

Phillips would not comment Friday on whether any visits had taken place. Friedman’s decision was sharply criticized by Reagan’s family and relatives of others who were shot.

Friedman said in his ruling, “All of the evidence submitted to the court weighs heavily in favor of finding that Mr. Hinckley, under appropriate conditions as outlined in this opinion, will not be a danger to himself or others.”

Nearly killed Reagan
Hinckley, 48, has lived at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington since he was acquitted in 1982 by reason of insanity in the shootings of Reagan, presidential press secretary James Brady and two law enforcement officers. Reagan was nearly killed, and Brady was permanently disabled. Hinckley said he shot Reagan to impress actress Jodie Foster.

Former first lady Nancy Reagan has said she and her family were disappointed.

“Although the judge limited Mr. Hinckley’s travel to the Washington, D.C., area, we continue to fear for the safety of the general public,” she said after Friedman’s ruling.

“Our thoughts are with all of Mr. Hinckley’s victims today, especially Jim Brady and his family, as they must continue to live with the tragic consequences of the assassination attempt.”

Brady’s wife, Sarah, has said the family still feared for its safety and did not want to see her husband’s life “ruined” any further.

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