- The Washington Times
Sunday, April 11, 2021

Reagan biographer Craig Shirley pushed back Sunday against a request for an unconditional release by John Hinckley Jr., who sought in 1981 to assassinate President Ronald Reagan.

Mr. Shirley, a historian and author of four books on Reagan, said that such a release would amount to an “atrocity.”

John Hinckley is not a well man,” said Mr. Shirley in a statement. “His release from his hospital a few years ago was a mistake and a full pardon would be an atrocity.”

Lawyers for the 65-year-old Hinckley said in a Thursday court filing that “he wants to set up a status call as soon as possible in hopes of scheduling a hearing for unconditional release,” according to the Associated Press.

Hinckley was released in 2016 from St. Elizabeths psychiatric hospital in Washington, D.C., after more than 30 years of treatment, and now lives with his mother and brother in a gated community in Williamsburg, Virginia.

The court filing “does not indicate exactly what unconditional release would mean for Hinckley,” the AP said.

Hinckley, diagnosed with acute psychosis, was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1982 for the shooting of Reagan and three others. The president was badly wounded but recovered from his injuries, which included a broken rib, punctured lung and internal bleeding.

White House press secretary James Brady suffered brain damage and was permanently disabled. Brady’s death in 2014 was ruled a homicide based on complications from the gunshot wound.

Hinckley is forbidden from contacting the victims, their families, or Jodie Foster, the actress he sought to impress with the assassination attempt.

“This is a man who nearly killed a sitting president because of his obsession with a movie star. It may have been 40 years but he still should be monitored,” said Mr. Shirley. “Experts can say what they want, but there’s no guarantee this man would not blow again. All that aside, we live in an age when actions don’t seem to have consequences, and Hinckley should still face the consequences for trying to kill a head of state.”

Reagan, who served as president from 1981-89, died in 2004 at age 93 after disclosing that he suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.

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