Federal prosecutors and hospital officials treating John W. Hinckley Jr. are still locked in disagreements over conditions for his full-time release from St. Elizabeths mental hospital in the District, as a federal judge nears a decision on the fate of President Reagan’s would-be assassin.
Key among 18 points of disagreement is how Hinckley would be monitored if released into his 89-year-old mother’s custody at her home in Williamsburg, Virginia. Prosecutors want him to wear an ankle monitor, and hospital officials want only a GPS device be attached to his car, but Hinckley wants no electronic monitoring, according to a court document released Wednesday.
U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman, who has gradually allowed Hinckley over the past 12 years to leave the mental facility for extended stays with his mother, is expected to decide soon on whether — and under what conditions — the 60-year-old Hinckley can be released full time into his mother’s care. Hinckley currently spends 17 days each month with his mother.
Many of the disagreements over Hinckley’s conditional release were noted in days of court hearings in April and May. The court document notes subsequent revisions to proposed conditions and continuing points of contention. For example:
• The government would not allow Hinckley to have any overnight non-family guests if his mother is not at home, and would allow him to spend the night in the District only in an emergency. The hospital would allow him overnight guests and to spend the night in the District if he first notifies authorities.
• The government would require Hinckley to carry a GPS-enabled cellphone whenever he is away from his mother’s home, and would authorize the Secret Service could locate him and monitor his communications at any time. The hospital would require only that he carry a GPS cellphone, but Hinckley himself rejects both recommendations.
• The government and the hospital agree that Hinckley be allowed to drive himself within a 30-mile radius of Williamsburg unless he is going to the District to his monthly treatment, but Hinckley wants to be allowed to drive within a 50-mile radius of his mother’s hometown.
The court document, filed this month by federal prosecutors, also notes areas of full agreement, including Hinckley’s participation in structured activities in the community, details about his ongoing therapy and treatment, and restrictions on his and his family’s communications with the media as well as his consumption of alcohol and unprescribed drugs.
Hinckley has lived and been treated at St. Elizabeths since he was acquitted by reason of insanity in shooting Reagan in 1981. Hospital officials say he is no longer a threat to himself or others, but prosecutors contend that he has been deceptive in the past and still poses a potential public risk.
No date has been set for Judge Friedman’s decision.
• Carleton Bryant can be reached at email@example.com.
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