Would-Be Reagan Assassin John Hinckley, Jr. Gets Unconditional Release - Rolling Stone
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Reagan’s Would-Be Assassin, John Hinckley, Jr., Officially Granted Unconditional Release

Ruling will go into effect June 15 after Hinckley continued to exhibit good behavior while living on his own for nearly a year

john hinckley jr unconditional release ronald reagan assassination attemptjohn hinckley jr unconditional release ronald reagan assassination attempt

John Hinckley Jr. arriving at court in 2003.

Evan Vucci/AP Photo

A federal judge has confirmed that Ronald Reagan’s would-be assassin, John Hinckley, Jr., will receive a full unconditional release from prison on June 15. 

U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman announced last September that he would grant Hinckley an unconditional release this month, so long as he continued to exhibit good behavior. Friedman confirmed that decision at a hearing Wednesday, June 1, per Fox News.

Prior to the hearing, U.S. prosecutors said in a filing that they believed Hinckley had benefited from mental health treatment and that he had “recovered his sanity such that he does not present a danger to himself or others because of mental illness if unconditionally released” (via The Associated Press). Hinckley’s lawyer did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment. 

Hinckley, an aspiring singer-songwriter, spent over 30 years in a mental hospital after a jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity in the 1981 shooting of Reagan, White House press secretary James Brady, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy, and Washington Metropolitan Police officer Thomas Delahanty. While everyone survived the shooting, Brady suffered the most severe injuries and was left partially paralyzed (when he died in 2014, the medical examiner ruled his death a homicide because the cause was related to his injuries, but prosecutors declined to press further charges against Hinckley).

In 2016, Hinckley was able to leave the mental hospital after being granted convalescent leave. He moved in with this mother in Williamsburg, Virginia, and lived with her until her death last summer. Hinckley has since spent nine months living on his own, following Friedman’s initial ruling on his unconditional release last fall. At the time, Hinckley also apologized to the people he shot, as well as Jodie Foster, whose attention he infamously tried to win by carrying out the assassination attempt. 

Over the past several years, Hinckley has also been allowed to pursue a musical career via his YouTube channel after years of sharing his art and music anonymously. In anticipation of his unconditional release being granted, Hinckley had even booked a handful of concerts for this summer, billing them as the “John Hinckley Redemption Tour.” While two of the shows, in Connecticut and Chicago, were canceled, he is still scheduled to perform at Market Hotel in Brooklyn on July 8.

In 2020, Hinckley emailed Rolling Stone about his musical endeavors, saying, “I’m now pursuing a music career. I write country songs mostly and I’ve just finished two songs…I’m hoping you’ll take an interest in my music career.” 

In This Article: John Hinckley Jr., Ronald Reagan


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