The man who shot President Ronald Reagan is leaving hospital for good today


The man who shot President Ronald Reagan is scheduled to leave a Washington mental hospital for good today, more than 35 years after the shooting.

A federal judge ruled in late July that 61-year-old John Hinckley is not a danger to himself or the public and can leave St Elizabeth's Hospital to live full-time at his mother's home in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Hinckley had already been visiting Williamsburg for long stretches at a time and preparing for the full-time transition. He will have to follow a lot of rules while in Williamsburg, but his long-time lawyer Barry Levine says he thinks Hinckley will be a "citizen about whom we can all be proud".

Barry Levin, attorney for John Hinckley

At the time, Judge Paul L Friedman had ruled Hinckley could leave the hospital as soon as August 5.

Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the 1981 shooting of Reagan, his press secretary James Brady and two law enforcement officers outside a Washington hotel.

In his July 27 ruling, Judge Friedman wrote that Hinckley was a "profoundly troubled 25-year-old young man" when he shot Reagan in an effort to impress actress Jodie Foster, but he has not exhibited symptoms of major depression or psychotic disorder for more than two decades.

Levine called Hinckley's departure from the hospital "a milestone" that was the result of a commitment by Hinckley and his family to "responsibly deal with disease".

President Ronald Reagan being shoved into a limousine after being shot in 1981

"People of goodwill should celebrate his achievement and success," Levine said.

When he is released Hinckley will have to work or volunteer at least three days a week. He has not yet done paid work in Williamsburg, but he has volunteered at a church and a mental health hospital, where he has worked in the library and in food service.

He will start off living with his elderly mother in her home in the gated community of Kingsmill. The unassuming home is on the 13th hole of a golf course. Hinckley's room has a king-size bed and TV and is decorated with paintings he has done of houses and cats, according to court documents.

Hinckley will continue to go to therapy while in Williamsburg. For at least the first six months he'll see his psychiatrist twice a month and he'll have to attend weekly group therapy sessions. He'll also see a therapist individually.

John Hinckley getting into his mother's car

There are limits to how Hinckley can spend his leisure time. He also can't drink or use illegal drugs. He can surf the web but, at least initially, he's not allowed to search for information about his crimes or victims, among other things.

He can't have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or LinkedIn without permission.