Repeating the Same Mistake with Hinckley

On March 31, 1981, the following appeared in the New York Times (emphasis added):

    “Mr. Hinckley’s family, through a spokesman, said the suspect “had been under psychiatric care,” but added that “the evaluations did not alert anyone to the seriousness of his condition.”

So why, then, are we seeing the following in the newspapers today?

“Reagan Shooter Allowed out on Visits”

    During five days of hearings, psychiatrists testifying for Hinckley, the government and the hospital said his mental health had improved to the point where he would not be a threat to himself or others if he were to leave the hospital for visits with his parents.

    –New York Post

“Hinckley Freed for Day Trips”

    Judge Friedman said he “concludes that it would not be legally sound to deny all aspects of the hospital’s request for conditional, time-limited outings under the supervision of parents.” The evidence, he said, “weighs so heavily in finding that Mr. Hinckley will not be a danger to himself or others.” [???]

    Mr. Brady, who was President Reagan’s press secretary, was gravely wounded by Hinckley and is disabled. Mrs. Brady opposed Hinckley’s petition for the unsupervised trips. So did the U.S. government, whose lawyers noted that Hinckley, who has written to serial killers while at St. Elizabeths, had boasted that he had “fooled” his doctors on earlier occasions. [???]

    U.S. attorneys have said Hinckley has a “history of deception and violence.” He has praised notorious criminals, including Adolf Hitler, and he has written to serial killer Ted Bundy and mass murderer Charles Manson. [???]

    Yesterday’s ruling followed a five-day hearing that began last month. Hospital officials testified that staff psychologists, psychiatrists and mental-health specialists say that Hinckley’s psychoses – narcissistic personality disorder and depression – are in remission and that they all approved of conditional releases with his parents.

    Two government witnesses, both psychiatrists, also testified that Hinckley is ready for unsupervised visits, as long as appropriate conditions are in place. But U.S. attorneys said Hinckley continued to pose a threat because he is hiding his true mental condition from psychiatrists.

    Judge Friedman acknowledged Hinckley’s “deceptive behavior” and said Hinckley continues to be “guarded and deceptive.” But he said Hinckley has shown no signs of violent behavior in the past 20 years, no signs of delusional thinking in the past 15 years and no signs of obsessive conduct for eight years.

    –Washington Times

“Judge Grants Hinckley Unsupervised Outings”

    U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman, who heard four days of testimony last month from psychiatrists and other experts, wrote, “All of the evidence submitted to the Court weighs so heavily in favor of finding that Mr. Hinckley . . . will not be a danger to himself or others.” He rejected the arguments of federal prosecutors, who said that Hinckley has a history of deception and that they believe he is concealing dangerous thoughts and remains a risk.

    –Washington Post

“Man Who Shot Reagan Allowed To Visit Parents Unsupervised: Judge Says Hinckley’s Mental State Is Improved”

    A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that John W. Hinckley Jr., who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981, was mentally stable enough to be allowed unsupervised visits with his parents outside the psychiatric hospital he has lived in for more than 20 years.

    The judge, Paul L. Friedman of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, ruled over the objections of the former president’s family and federal officials. [???]

    While Judge Friedman concluded that the evidence in the case convinced him that Mr. Hinckley would “not be a danger to himself or others,” his ruling was immediately criticized by Mr. Reagan’s wife, Nancy, and the Justice Department on behalf of all the shooting victims, including Mr. Brady, who suffered brain damage from his wounds. [???]

    Jo Ann Hinckley told the court, “There’s no issue of dangerousness with John at all.”

    –New York Times

“Hinckley Outings Allowed”

    Two decades of therapy and a steady regimen of antipsychotic drugs have led mental health experts who have examined him recently, including government psychiatrists, to agree that he is in “full remission” and has been for years. None said he was dangerous, and all agreed during three days of hearings that passes for day trips with his family were part of the natural progression of his therapy.

    –Los Angeles Times