John Hinckley Jr. Speaks Out as He's Freed After Trying to Assassinate President Ronald Reagan

A judge confirmed that John Hinckley Jr. would be released fully under no condition earlier this month

John Hinckley, Jr. mugshot in on March 30, 1981. (Photo courtesy Bureau of Prisons/Getty Images)
Photo: Bureau of Prisons/Getty

John Hinckley Jr. is officially a free man.

Hinckley, 67, revealed that he was fully released from court restrictions in a social media statement on Wednesday, following a failed assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

"After 41 years 2 months and 15 days, FREEDOM AT LAST!!!" Hinckley tweeted.

Hinckley previously shot Reagan — as well as White House Press Secretary James Brady, a Secret Service agent and a police officer — in front of a Washington, D.C., hotel on March 30, 1981. Hinckley, who was 25 at the time, had hoped to impress Jodie Foster, the subject of an obsessive infatuation.

A year later, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity and subsequently spent decades in treatment at Saint Elizabeths Hospital in Washington D.C. He remained in psychiatric care there until 2016, when the judge overseeing his case approved his release with restrictions, including mandatory therapy and treatment by doctors administering and monitoring his psychiatric medications.

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President Ronald Reagan and John Hinckley Jr
Harry Langdon/Getty , Bettmann Archive/Getty

U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman confirmed earlier this month that the order for Hinckley's full release would take effect on June 15, the Associated Press reported. The judge first announced the decision in September 2021 on the condition that he would continue to display good behaviors in the community in Virginia, where he had been living with his family in recent years under several dozen restrictions.

"He's been scrutinized. He's passed every test. He's no longer a danger to himself or others," Friedman explained at the hearing, despite Hinckley's absence from the court, per the AP. "I am confident that Mr. Hinckley will do well in the years remaining to him."

"It took us a long time to get here," he added. "This is the time to let John Hinckley move on with his life, so we will."

The would-be assassin was psychologically disturbed when he came "very close" to killing the president, but the judge remarked that Hinckley was now healthy without any mental health issues for four decades. Hinckley also has not exhibited any violent behavior or interest in weapons.

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Federal prosecutors had previously opposed Hinckley's release up until last year, the AP reported.

Prosecutor Kacie Weston previously said in court that the government believes the case "has demonstrated the success that can come from a wraparound mental health system."

Weston said Hinckley has expressed a desire to continue receiving mental health services even after being dismissed from the requirement to do so. She also said the government wishes "him success for both his sake as well as the safety of the community."

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Some of Reagan's family, however, had been critical of Hinckley's release.

In a July 2016 post on her website, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis wrote that "when my father was lying in a hospital bed recovering from the gunshots that nearly killed him, he said, 'I know my ability to heal depends on my willingness to forgive John Hinckley.' "

"I, too, believe in forgiveness," Davis continued then. "But forgiving someone in your heart doesn't mean that you let them loose in Virginia to pursue whatever dark agendas they may still hold dear."

If you or someone you know needs mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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