12/19/2003 7:53am, #1
Unsupervised trips by Hinckley allowed
Does anyone else think this is total bull ****?
Posted on Thu, Dec. 18, 2003
Unsupervised trips by Hinckley allowed
A judge rules that the man who shot Reagan in 1981 can travel without hospital staff. Limits were set.
By Jonathan D. Salant
WASHINGTON - The man who shot Ronald Reagan may visit his parents unaccompanied by staff from the mental hospital where he has lived for more than two decades, a judge ruled yesterday over the objections of the former president's family and federal officials.
In a 50-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman granted John Hinckley Jr. six unsupervised visits in the Washington area. But he attached some strict conditions and rejected Hinckley's request to travel to his parents' home in Williamsburg, Va., about three hours south of the capital.
"All of the evidence submitted to the court weighs heavily in favor of finding that Mr. Hinckley, under appropriate conditions as outlined in this opinion, will not be a danger to himself or others," Friedman said.
Hinckley, 48, has lived at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington since he was acquitted in 1982 by reason of insanity in the March 30, 1981, shootings of Reagan, White House press secretary James Brady, and two law enforcement officers.
The shootings nearly killed Reagan and left Brady permanently disabled. Hinckley said he had shot Reagan to impress actress Jodie Foster.
His lawyer, Barry W. Levine, said that Hinckley was entitled under the law to receive unsupervised visits, and that the judge's conditions should alleviate any concerns about public safety.
"The rule of law applies equally to Mr. Hinckley as to everyone else," Levine said. "An opposition based on fear or an opposition based on a need for revenge or a sense of bitterness is an opposition that is sadly but woefully misplaced."
Former first lady Nancy Reagan said she and her family were disappointed.
"Although the judge limited Mr. Hinckley's travel to the Washington, D.C., area, we continue to fear for the safety of the general public," she said in a statement. "Our thoughts are with all of Mr. Hinckley's victims today, especially Jim Brady and his family, as they must continue to live with the tragic consequences of the assassination attempt."
Brady's wife, Sarah, now a prominent gun-control activist, was unavailable to comment yesterday. Earlier, she had sent Friedman a letter asking him to deny Hinckley's request, saying her family still feared for its safety and didn't want to see James Brady's life "ruined" any further.
Friedman said he took note of "the concerns raised by the government, the various individuals whose lives were changed by Mr. Hinckley's actions in 1981, and the general public," but concluded that the law allowed the would-be assassin to have the unsupervised visits.
The judge said Hinckley may make six 12-hour day trips with his parents in the Washington area. If they go well, he and his parents may be allowed two 32-hour overnight visits within 50 miles of the capital.
Friedman said a detailed schedule must be submitted to him two weeks before each unsupervised visit. Hinckley must remain under his parents' constant supervision while away from the hospital and may not talk to the news media or to his former girlfriend, Leslie DeVeau.
If there is any sign of deterioration in Hinckley's mental condition, he must immediately be returned to the hospital.
Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo said the restrictions were proper but said the government was still disappointed with the ruling.
"Mr. Hinckley's atrocious acts forever impacted the lives of his innocent victims and their families," Corallo said. "It is unfortunate that the concerns of the Reagan and Brady families were not accorded more weight in this decision."
Hinckley has been allowed supervised visits off the hospital grounds for several years and has made about 200 such trips to theaters, bowling alleys, beaches and bookstores. No problems have occurred, according to hospital officials.
The Secret Service watches Hinckley whenever he leaves the hospital and is expected to continue to do so when he takes unsupervised trips.
During five days of hearings, psychiatrists testifying for Hinckley, the government, and the hospital said his mental health had improved to the point that he would not be a threat to himself or others if he were to leave the hospital to visit his parents.
But government lawyers insisted that Hinckley was trying to deceive his doctors. They noted, for example, that he had stopped reading everything except newspapers, magazines and books on cats, which they said masked his true interests.
The hospital had withdrawn three previous requests for unsupervised visits after it was learned that Hinckley had hid materials from his doctors. At one time, he had 57 pictures of Foster in his room.
12/19/2003 10:06am, #2
Law's the law man.
Though, I'd be worried he's a danger still.
Still in over 20 years, maybe they've made progress.:qleft1: :new_cussi :qmickey: :evil7: :XXcat: :XXfish: :5crackup:
12/19/2003 11:53am, #3
well they said he is all right as long as he takes his meds ......
That makes me feel a lot better.
12/19/2003 12:05pm, #4
But the law is law, and to pick and choose when we enforce it defeats it's purpose.:qleft1: :new_cussi :qmickey: :evil7: :XXcat: :XXfish: :5crackup:
12/19/2003 12:52pm, #5
He's probably better then when he went in but he's still an obsessive type and if I was Jodie Foster I'd be worried. If he could get together the money for a plane ticket and black market gun he could be back in 'business'.