More privileges sought for John Hinckley

/ Source: The Associated Press

Administrators of a Washington psychiatric hospital have asked a federal district judge to expand release privileges of would-be presidential assassin John Hinckley Jr., court records show.

Hinckley has been committed to St. Elizabeths Hospital since he shot and wounded President Reagan in 1981. Hinckley, who said he was trying to impress actress Jodie Foster, was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

According to court filings this week, the hospital proposed on May 28 that Hinckley be allowed several new privileges: an extension of visits to his mother's home from the current six nights to nine nights; the chance to do volunteer work in his mother's area and around Washington; and permission to get a driver's license that he would use only when accompanied by a court-authorized person.

The U.S. Attorney's office filed a motion Wednesday to deny the hospital's request. Prosecutors said Hinckley's behavior continues to show risk factors for further violence. They cited concern about relationships he's had with various women and about a song he recently recorded, "The Ballad of the Outlaw," which he wrote before the assassination attempt.

Hinckley's attorneys filed a response Friday, saying Hinckley has had many conditional releases over the years "without a single negative incident." They argue he's been in full and stable remission and there's no risk of relapse during the release times.

A hearing on the proposed release changes is set for July 21.

In 2005, a federal judge granted Hinckley brief visits to his family's home in Williamsburg, Va., about three hours from Washington. Last year, Hinckley's doctors said he was ready to spend more time away from the hospital but a judge found that hospital administrators had not proposed a structure to ensure such trips would be safe.