Reagan shooter John Hinckley released from all mental health oversight 40 years after being found insane

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 WASHINGTON, DC – The timing is curious, given the number of shootings taking place perpetrated by obviously mentally ill men, but authorities have been pushing for years to release President Reagan’s shooter.

It has finally happened. A federal judge on Wednesday granted unconditional release to attempted presidential assassin John Hinckley Jr., removing any of the remaining restrictions under which he has lived since the 1981 attack outside a Washington hotel.

Hinckley shot and wounded President Ronald Reagan and three others in an assassination attempt meant to impress actress Jodie Foster. If anybody should be incarcerated or institutionalized for life, one would think the shooter of a president would qualify.

But his mental illness has been called “in remission” and he will soon be free to live as any other American would who has not taken aim at the leader of the free world.

Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity at his 1982 jury trial. The verdict prompted Congress and some states to adopt laws limiting use of the insanity defense.

During this week’s hearing in Washington, U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman lifted travel and internet-usage restrictions against Hinckley, who has been living on his own in Williamsburg, Virginia. The order will take effect June 15, Friedman said.

The announcement is a follow-through for Friedman, who, during a hearing last September, said he was prepared to grant Hinckley unconditional release. He set the June 15 date so that prosecutors would have more time to monitor Hinckley as he transitioned to living on his own following the death of his mother less than a year ago.

Friedman said at the September hearing that Hinckley’s mental health problems were “in remission” and he no longer posed a danger to himself or society.

Hinckley was released from a psychiatric hospital in 2016, where he was being treated for depression and psychosis, and allowed to move into a gated community in Williamsburg to care for his elderly mother. She died in August 2021.

Since leaving the hospital, Hinckley, 67, has complied with court-ordered conditions and has remained mentally stable and asymptomatic, court documents state. Federal prosecutors, who supported Hinckley’s unconditional release, wrote to the court in favor of the move. They said:

“Hinckley has made no verbal threats, and he has exhibited no behaviors indicative of harm to himself, others, or the property of others. He has exhibited no disruptive or problematic behaviors.”

However, Patti Davis, President Reagan’s daughter, wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post in September in which she said Hinckley should not be released. She wrote that she did not believe he feels remorse for his violent actions.

The Reagan Foundation and Institute on Monday issued a statement opposing the unconditional release, noting the profound impact on countless people affected when Hinckley shot the president and three other men. The statement read:

“The Reagan Foundation and Institute is saddened to hear of the decision to unconditionally release John Hinckley, Jr., the man responsible for the attempted assassination of President Reagan, a shooting that gravely wounded three other brave men.”

“Contrary to the judge’s decision, we believe John Hinckley is still a threat to others and we strongly oppose his release. Our hope is that the Justice Department will file a motion with the court leading to a reversal of this decision.”

At the hourlong hearing Wednesday, which Hinckley did not attend, Friedman said:

“He’s been scrutinized. He’s passed every test. He’s no longer a danger to himself or others.”

Friedman spoke at length about the case that he saw as a  “long road.” He was the third judge to be involved in the case, which he was assigned to two decades ago.

He noted that Hinckley was a profoundly mentally troubled young man when he shot Reagan but that he had been under intensive mental health care for more than 30 years. Hinckley has shown no signs of active mental illness since the mid-1980s, the judge noted, saying that he has exhibited no violent behavior or interest in weapons.

After his trial, Hinckley was confined to a mental hospital in Washington for more than twenty years. Starting in 2003 Friedman began allowing Hinckley to spend longer stretches in the community with stipulations, such as mandatory therapy and restrictions on where he could travel.

 

He’s been living full-time in Virginia since 2016 under certain restrictions, such as allowing officials access to his electronic devices, email and online accounts; being barred from traveling to places where he knows there will be someone protected by the Secret Service, and giving three days notice if he wants to travel more than 75 miles from his home.

Hinckley shot Reagan at 2:27 p.m. on March 30, 1981, in an assassination attempt outside the Washington Hilton Hotel. Reagan was hit by a single .22 LR projectile that ricocheted off the side of his limousine and entered his left underarm, where it then broke a rib and punctured a lung, causing internal bleeding.

He was rushed to George Washington University Hospital, where doctors said he was close to death. He was stabilized, then taken for emergency surgery. Despite the gravity of his wounds, President Reagan quickly recovered and on April 11 was released from the hospital.

Three other men were wounded that day: White House press secretary James Brady, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and Washington, D.C., police officer Thomas Delahanty.

Brady suffered brain damage in the attack and his death in 2014 was considered to be homicide directly caused by the injuries suffered in the assassination attempt. Prosecutors in 2015 elected not to file charges against Hinckley for the death, saying the case would be difficult to win considering Hinkley had been declared not guilty by reason of insanity for shooting the president.

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Don’t blame the gun: Study finds most mass shooters suffer from unmedicated and untreated mental illness

June 13, 2021

STANFORD, CA – Democrats and left-wing advocates have been calling for crisis workers to respond in place of police officers to incidents that involve the mentally ill. A new study supports arguments against the idea as it finds most mass shootings are committed by the mentally ill.

In a study published June 7 in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, a group of Psychiatry researchers determined that “a significant proportion of mass shooters experienced unmedicated and untreated psychiatric disorder.”

While not directly related to the debate on crisis workers replacing police officers, it adds to a growing body of evidence indicating mental health workers would not be safe responding to calls inside the community with police support.

The aim of the study was to fill a gap of understanding into mass shootings. The background of the study stated:

“Given the relative lack of psychiatric information and data on the perpetrators of US mass shootings, the aim of our study was to understand who these ‘mass shooters’ were and whether they had a psychiatric illness.

“If so, were they competently diagnosed, and if so, were they treated with appropriate medication for their diagnoses before the violence?”

The study conducted a “retrospective, observational study of mass shooters,” studying mass shooters who have killed four or more people with firearms between 1982 and 2022, or who have killed three or more people with firearms between 2013 and 2019 inside the United States.

The researchers obtained their data from Mother Jones, with a database of 115 persons identified as committing a mass shooting in the United States between January 1982 and September 2019.

The research pointed out that a majority of the mass shooters in the database had died during or shortly following their killing spree, so the study focused on 35 who survived and entered legal proceedings requiring psychiatric evaluation.

The researchers poured over interviews of the suspects, police, investigators, journalists, and other sources of information. They also reviewed video and audio recordings, media postings, and writings of the mass shooters to obtain data.

After those steps, an additional 20 cases where the assailant died at the crime were randomly selected from the remaining 80, to determine whether there were differences in psychiatric diagnoses and treatment between such assailants and those who survived.

The study found:

“Twenty-eight of 35 cases in which the assailant survived had a psychiatric diagnosis—18 with schizophrenia, 3 with bipolar I disorders, 2 with delusional disorders, persecutory type, 2 with personality disorders (1 paranoid and 1 borderline), 2 with substance-related disorders without other psychiatric diagnoses, and 1 with posttraumatic stress disorder. Four had no psychiatric diagnosis, and in 3, we did not have enough information to make a diagnosis.

“Of 15 of 20 cases in which the assailant died, 8 had schizophrenia. None of those diagnosed with psychiatric illnesses were treated with medication.”

The researchers in the study included Ira D. Glick MD., of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Nina E. Cerfolio, MD. of the Department of Psychiatry, The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, Danielle Kamis, MD., Adjunct Clinical Faculty at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, and Michael Laurence, JD, of the Law Office of Michael Laurence.

The study adds light to a larger societal issue being debated since the calls for defunding the police and justice reform by left-wing groups such as Black Lives Matter and Antifa, as well as many Democratic politicians.

Many of these groups have been calling for crisis mental health workers to respond to calls involving the mentally ill, and not to have police respond to such incidents.

An example can be found in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where the city council set aside $100,000 in its budget this year to look into programs where mental health workers assist or replace police officers in certain “community interventions.”

Supporters claim the move would reduce the chances of violence between police and citizens.

Allentown Police Chief Glenn Granitz Jr., supported looking into a crisis response program, but that it should not come at the expense of the police department:

“We would be served well by adding (both) police officers and social workers to improve the safety and quality of life in Allentown.”

A previous study conducted by Michael B. Knable, DO., Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at George Washington University School of Medicine, found that 33 mental health workers had been murdered by patients in the United States since 1981.

The study pointed out that the numbers may not reflect the truth about how wide=spread health care worker’s killings actually are, since records reflect only those killed inside treatment programs, not out in the community:

“One might expect that such events can be expected approximately once per year. We cannot conclude that our list of cases is complete, especially since many documents and news reports related to homicides of mental health workers prior to the widespread use of the internet in the 1990s may have been difficult to locate.

“We also excluded cases of homicide outside of psychiatric settings providing direct care to the perpetrators; we believe many homicides committed in other social service agencies may also involve perpetrators with mental illnesses.”

The study found:

“The group most likely to have been victims of homicidal attacks was young women caseworkers, most of who were killed during unaccompanied visits to residential treatment facilities.

The group most likely to have been perpetrators of violence was males who carried a diagnosis of Schizophrenia.”

The study found that the most likely way mental health workers are killed is by gunshot.

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