Ronald Reagan's would-be assassin is about to get a full, unconditional release

View of armed Secret Service agents around the bodies of policeman Thomas K Delahanty and White Hous...
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It's been more than 40 years since John Hinckley — in a delusional attempt to woo actress Jodi Foster — opened fire on President Ronald Reagan outside a Washington, D.C., hotel, injuring not only his target, but two nearby law enforcement officials and a member of Reagan's staff as well. Hinckley, who later described the assassination attempt as "the greatest love offering in the history of the world" was ruled legally insane — a decision that prompted outcry, ultimately leading to changes in how mental illness is evaluated a criminal defense.

Hinckley himself, meanwhile, spent decades living in mental health facilities, where — as U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman noted Monday, "very few patients [...] have been studied more thoroughly." And now, a generation removed from the act that defined his life, Hinckley is poised to receive a full, unconditional release from his ongoing supervision, with attorney Barry Wm. Levine declaring on this week that "there is no evidence of danger whatsoever."

Hinckley's unconditional release, tentatively scheduled to begin next summer, would see the 66-year-old would-be assassin living entirely unsupervised since leaving the care of physicians and mental health experts to live with his mother in 2016. Following his mother's death, and the pending retirement of one of his primary physicians, however, prosecutor Kacie Weston has requested nearly a year of monitoring to ensure Hinckley remains in a position to be fully free of supervision.

"The ball is in Mr. Hinckley's hands," Weston told the court during Monday's hearing.

"It's too much to ask for forgiveness," Hinckley's attorney admitted during the proceeding. "But he asks for understanding."

Earlier this year, the court allowed Hinckley to begin posting videos to a YouTube channel, where he shared both cover songs and original compositions including, most recently, "May Your Dreams Come True," an original featuring the lyric "it's a long way to where I'm going, but I'm on my way."

The government has increasingly eased the various restrictions placed on Hinckley over the years, but until Monday had never backed a full, unconditional release. He remains barred from contacting any family members of the people he injured during the shooting, as well as Foster. He is similarly not allowed to own a firearm.