WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Would-be presidential assassin John Hinckley Jr. has earned the right to get more time away from a Washington mental hospital, his lawyer said.
Hinckley, who has been at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington for 31 years, was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the 1981 shootings of U.S. President Ronald Reagan and three aides outside a Washington hotel.
Hinckley attorney Barry Levine said Monday in federal court the hospital has said "it's time for him to go," arguing the federal government's attempt to block expanded releases is tantamount to "disguised prison," the Newport News (Va.) Daily Press reported.
He has been housed at St. Elizabeths since 1982 and currently has monthly, 10-day conditional releases to visit to his mother in James City County, Va.
Levine's comments came during a hearing on the hospital's proposal to extend Hinckley's current releases to two 17-day releases, followed by six 24-day releases, The Daily Press said. After completing the extended visits satisfactorily, Hinckley would move to convalescence leave from St. Elizabeths, pending a clinical assessment, the proposal indicates.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Colleen Kennedy called the changes a "patchwork quilt" and said consideration must be given to Hinckley's behavior dating back to his obsession with actress Jodie Foster that led to the assassination attempts.