New Hearings on Plan for John Hinckley Jr. to Live Outside Mental Hospital

Image: John Hinckley photo
John Hinckley photoFBI

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A federal judge has ordered a new round of court hearings on whether John Hinckley, Jr. should be given longer leaves from a Washington, D.C., mental hospital and eventually allowed to live in Virginia.

Doctors at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington previously sought court approval for a plan to let Hinckley spend roughly half the year in his mother's hometown of Williamsburg, divided into eight separate visits of varying lengths. If the visits went well, they would seek authority to let him remain there. Hinckley has lived at the hospital since trying to assassinate Ronald Reagan in 1981.

The government has opposed that plan, and two years ago the plan hit a snag when the mental health organization that offered to participate in his treatment said it needed to reconsider.

Now the federal judge overseeing the case says St. Elizabeths has made a new set of recommendations on what to do next — a plan that is now under seal. Judge Paul Friedman on Friday ordered the hospital to provide a risk assessment by March 31 and set a schedule for responses from psychiatrists, Hinckley's lawyers, and the Justice Department.

The judge scheduled a hearing on the new release plan for April 22.

Last month, federal prosecutors said they would not pursue charges against Hinckley for his role in the death of James Brady, President Reagan's press secretary. Last August, after Brady died at age 73, the coroner's report ruled Brady's death a homicide. Brady was shot by Hinckley on March 30, 1981.