(CN) – The would-be assassin of former President Ronald Reagan will get expanded freedoms in the next phase of his conditional release program, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled. Though his “ever-present narcissism” remains, John W. Hinckley Jr. no longer displays the “intense self-absorption that was present during the 1980s,” U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman wrote.
Hinckley tried to assassinate Reagan in 1981 as part of a ploy to get the attention of actress Jodie Foster.
Hinckley wounded Reagan and three others as they exited the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. At trial in June 1982, Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was admitted to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington.
The court said Hinckley, 54, was ready to enter the next phase of his conditional release privileges, which will allow him to integrate himself into his mother’s community of Williamsburg, Va., through volunteer work, social activities and obtaining a driver’s license.
The court agreed with the hospital’s request for permission for Hinckley to lengthen his overnight stays in Williamsburg from six to nine nights. Hinckley’s privileges have increased over his decades-long stay at the facility with charted psychological improvements. Hinckley hasn’t exhibited violent behavior, toward himself or others, in more than 25 years, the ruling states.
Hinckley does not have to recover completely before being allowed greater freedom, the judge ruled. Friedman found no evidence that Hinckley would be a threat to himself or others under the new conditions. Hinckley has a long record of abiding by the court’s orders, the opinion states, and he has displayed an ability to endure changes in romantic relationships and to cope with his father’s death.
But the court did admit that he continues to demonstrate “poor judgment” in his relationships with women. Hospital records reveal that Hinckley has had sex with two women recently, one whom is bipolar and another who is already in a relationship.
The court denied the hospital’s request to let Hinckley volunteer in Washington, agreeing with government prosecutors that working in the district would distract Hinckley during his transition to life in Williamsburg. The court also said Hinckley must prove his commitment to volunteer work before enjoying expanded social privileges. Hinckley will be required to carry a GPS-enabled cell phone when he is off hospital grounds and not accompanied by family or treatment staff.