Judge denies Hinckley request

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THE WASHINGTON TIMES Would-be presidential assassin John W. Hinckley Jr. will have to wait to get his D.C. driver’s license and take trips as long as one month to his parents’ house, under a recent federal ruling.

U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman denied a request Tuesday by Hinckley’s doctors to expand their patient’s freedoms with the ultimate goal of him being integrated back into society.

Hinckley has been in St. Elizabeths Hospital since he was found not guilty by reason of insanity for the 1981 shooting of President Reagan.

Judge Friedman denied a request to dramatically expand Hinckley’s freedoms, saying St. Elizabeths had not done enough to make sure Hinckley’s trips from the psychiatric hospital would be safe.

“The reason the court has reached this decision rest with the hospital, not with Mr. Hinckley,” the judge wrote. “The 13 visits by Mr. Hinckley to his parents’ community have been ntherapeutic and uneventful. Mr. Hinckley, his parents and his siblings have done all that has been asked of them. … Unfortunately, the hospital has not taken the steps it must make before any such transition can begin.”

Hospital officials had proposed that Hinckley enter phase four of a five-step treatment plan, with the last step being his release into the community.

In the fourth phase, the hospital asked that Hinckley be allowed six, two-week visits to his parents’ Williamsburg home, followed by a one-month trip.

Hinckley also would have received permission to get a D.C. driver’s license and take driver-education courses.

But two doctors expressed concern about Hinckley’s relationship with a woman suffering from bipolar disorder. Identified as “Ms. M” in court documents, she and Hinckley have “an evolving relationship” best explored by the hospital staff, doctors said.

One doctor said Hinckley “has shown serious errors in judgment and perception with respect to the relationship,” the judge wrote.

Hinckley’s relationships with women loom as a major area of concern regarding his release because he said he shot Mr. Reagan to impress actress Jodie Foster.

Though he rejected the hospital’s proposal, Judge Friedman expanded from four to six days the length of trips Hinckley can take to his parents’ house.

Government attorneys had argued against plans to expand Hinckley’s freedom, calling them “ill-conceived” at hearings in April that Hinckley attended.

Mr. Hinckley needs structure, and the plan does not provide it,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Zeno argued.

Hinckley’s brother, Scott, testified that he hoped his brother could find a job or volunteer work.

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