A proposal to let the man who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan go on weeks-long visits to his mother's home and live there eventually is "premature and ill-conceived,'' government attorneys said Friday in a court document.
John Hinckley, who was found by a jury to be insane at the time of the 1981 shooting, has spent the last three decades largely confined to St. Elizabeths Hospital in Southeast. In recent years, however, he has been allowed increasing amounts of time outside the facility, including multi-day visits with his family.
When a judge last reviewed the conditions of his confinement in 2009, he was permitted to go on a series of 10-day visits to his mother's home. According to a court document filed Friday, the
hospital wants a judge to extend the visits to 17 and 24 days and then let the hospital decide if he should be allowed to live full-time at his mother's home. It was not clear, though, how soon
that step might come.
"The Hospital's proposal for expanded conditions of release is premature and ill conceived,'' prosecutors said in a 13-page document filed late Friday in federal court in Washington.
But Hinckley's lawyer, Barry Levine, said Friday that he agrees with the hospital's proposal and there is no evidence Hinckley is a danger to himself or to others.
"Not one bit. There is no evidence of him being dangerous, not a little bit, not marginal evidence. None. And they know it,'' Levine said of prosecutors.
Levine called the prosecutors' court filing "shameful fear-mongering without any factual basis.'' He said it was unfair to his client that the proposal by St. Elizabeths Hospital is confidential while the government responded in a public document. Because the hospital's proposal is confidential, Levine could not discuss its contents, but he said his client is not a danger.
"The record is replete with uninterrupted success for over two decades. There hasn't been a shred of evidence of danger as a result of mental disease. Not a shred,'' he said.
Prosecutors, however, opposed what they said were "sweeping expansions'' of Hinckley's current privileges. They said Hinckley is "a man capable of great violence'' and "still not sufficiently
well to alleviate the concern that this violence may be repeated,'' though his mental health is better.
In addition, prosecutors said St. Elizabeths should not be allowed to decide independently if Hinckley can live full-time at his mother's home. They also expressed dissatisfaction with the proposed visits, saying the U.S. Secret Service would not be able to adequately monitor Hinckley during times he is allowed to be alone because they would not be given advance notice of his plans for that time.
A hearing is scheduled in Hinckley's case for the end of November.