Sunday, June 8, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) - Administrators of a Washington psychiatric hospital have requested a federal district judge expand release privileges of would-be presidential assassin John Hinckley Jr., court records show.

Hinckley has been committed to St. Elizabeths Hospital since he shot and wounded President Reagan in 1981. Hinckley, who said he was trying to impress actress Jodie Foster, was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

According to court records filed this week, the hospital proposed on May 28 that Hinckley be allowed several new privileges. The requests include: an extension of visits to his mother’s home from the current six nights to nine nights; the chance to do volunteer work in his mother’s area and around Washington for a few hours at a time; and permission to get a driver’s license that he would use only when accompanied by a court-authorized person.

The U.S. Attorney’s office filed a motion Wednesday to deny the hospital’s request. Prosecutors said Hinckley’s behavior continues to show risk factors for further violence. They cite relationships he’s had with various women as troubling as well as a song he recently recorded that was written before the assassination attempt, entitled “The Ballad of the Outlaw.”

Hinckley’s attorneys filed a response to prosecutors Friday, saying Hinckley has been in many conditional releases over the years “without a single negative incident.” They argue he’s been in full and stable remission and there’s no risk of relapse during the release times.

A hearing on the proposed release changes is set for July 21.

In 2005, a federal judge ruled that Hinckley would be allowed brief visits to the family’s home in Williamsburg, Va., about three hours from Washington. Last year, Hinckley’s doctors said he was ready to spend more time away from the hospital but a judge found that hospital administrators had not proposed a structure to ensure such trips would be safe.

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