More Privileges For John Hinckley?

A federal hearing will decide on July 21, 2008 whether the would-be presidential assassin John Hinckley Jr. should be allowed more release privileges, including being allowed longer visits to his mother’s house here in Williamsburg.

Hinckley, who shot and wounded President Reagan in 1981, was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was committed to St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington. He has been confined there ever since.

But recently, the psychiatric hospital petitioned a federal district judge to allow increased privileges for Hinckley. Will Hinckley be allowed a conditional drivers license? Will he be granted more time and freedom in the Williamsburg area?

St. Elizabeth administrators have requested that Hinckley be granted longer visits to his mother’s home here in Williamsburg, from the current 6 nights to 9 nights. They also asked that Hinckley be allowed the chance to do volunteer work here in the Williamsburg area as well as in Washington. They also believe he should be allowed to get a driver’s license to use when accompanied by a court-authorized person.

This news is alarming to those who think Hinckley should stay locked up, including federal prosecutors.

Upon learning of the hospital’s action, the U.S. Attorney’s office moved to deny the hospitals request, stating that Hinckley’s behavior shows there is still a risk of further violence. Hinckley’s attorneys responded with that in his many conditional releases in the past, Hinckley has never had a negative incident.

The hearing on these proposed release privileges is scheduled for July 21.

UPDATE: The courts are trying to decide whether Williamsburg is the right place for Hinckley. He has applied for volunteer positions here at local organizations, including the Williamsburg Library and Salvation Army, but he has been rejected. U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman is now wondering if perhaps the more diverse community of Washington D.C. would be more appropriate and accepting of Hinckley as a volunteer.