News & Politics

John Hinckley’s Release Will Be Very Similar to How He’s Been Living Recently

The conditions laid out in the order releasing John Hinckley, Jr. from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, where he has spent most of his time since his 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, are quite similar to the terms of his confinement over the past few years, including required therapy, limits on where he can travel, and restrictions on his contact with the outside world.

Upon his release, which could come as soon as August 5, Hinckley will live full-time with his mother in Williamsburg, Virginia, whom he has been permitted to visit—under Secret Service supervision—for up to two weeks per month since 2005. Once he’s out full-time, he’ll still be under close treatment and monitoring for at least 12 to 18 months.

Judge Paul Friedman‘s order requires Hinckley to keep his doctors at St. Elizabeth’s apprised, mostly over the phone, of nearly all his activities. He’ll also visit an outpatient clinic in Northeast DC at least once a month. Hinckley is allowed to drive himself to these appointments, but his travel time and route will have to be provided to the Secret Service. He can also drive by himself within a 30-mile radius of Williamsburg, or within a 50-mile zone if he’s accompanied by someone from his treatment team or a family member. Any travel more distant—other than his scheduled appointments in DC—require a request at least seven days in advance.

In Williamsburg, Hinckley, 61, will shuttle between his home, therapy sessions, and “structured activities” that may include  volunteer or paid work. Since he started making regular visits to Williamsburg, as Eddie Dean reported in the June issue of Washingtonian, Hinckley has tried to volunteer his time to several community organizations there, though all of them have refused his offers.

Hinckley is also ordered not to have any contact with Reagan’s family, who have opposed the release; the family of James Brady, the Secret Service officer wounded in the assassination attempt; or Jodie Foster, with whom Hinckley was obsessed with following her role in Taxi Driver.

But the order puts steep prohibitions on Hinckley’s communications with anyone other than his mother and his doctors. While he’ll have access to the internet, he is not allowed to search or click on any page relating to the 1981 shooting, or content about weapons or pornography. He can have a cell phone and email accounts that his doctors and social worker will be able to review. Hinckley is not allowed to respond, however, to anyone who tries to contact him about “his notoriety.” But email and basic browsing seem to be the extent of his internet access. The order blocks him from creating accounts on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or other social platforms. He’s also blocked from uploading any content, including his music.

The order prohibits Hinckley and his family from speaking with media; if they do, it will be considered a violation of his release.

Hinckley’s mother still lives in the in Kingsmill Resort gated community, which includes three golf courses, including one that has been played by presidents, including Bill Clinton. In the event a president or anyone else under Secret Service protection, Hinckley will not be able to travel to those areas.

Hinckley Release by Benjamin Freed on Scribd

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.