Today, a federal judge has granted a full release to John Hinckley, Jr., the man who on March 30, 1981 attempted to assassinate President Reagan and severely wounded White House Press Secretary James Brady as well as Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and DC police office Thomas Delahunt . Hinckley will be released from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital effective next month and will live full-time with his 90-year old mother.
I must confess that upon hearing this news my first thought was that Jodie Foster is probably not very impressed.
My second thought was a question. Would Judge Friedman have made this ruling if Nancy Reagan were still alive? I very much doubt it.
My third thought was another question. Given the advanced age of Hinckley’s mother what happens to him when she dies? I honestly wonder how much thought the judge put into that question.
Now it’s true that over the past decade or so, Hinckley has spent more and more time away from St. Elizabeth’s. I also suppose there was the possibility of Hinckley being released after Arthur Bremer was released in 2007. In May 1972, Bremer shot and paralyzed George Wallace during a campaign appearance in Maryland. Unlike Hinckley, Bremer was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 63 years in prison (effectively a life sentence). It is also worth remembering that Bremer had planned to assassinate President Nixon and had traveled up to Ottawa to do so a month earlier, but security proved too tight. I also mention Bremer because Hinckley was obsessed with the movie Taxi Driver (which sparked his obsession with Jodie Foster) which was loosely based on Bremer’s diaries.
The judge ruled that Hinckley would be returned to St. Elizabeth’s if he violates the terms of his release. Yet this is precisely what I fear of happening.