A federal judge has approved the unconditional release of John Hinckley Jr., 40 years after Hinckley’s failed assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.

Hinckley, 66, will be eligible for release next year after living in a Virginia mental hospital for the past five years. He faced court-imposed restrictions that required doctors and therapists to oversee his mental health.

Hinckley is legally prohibited from owning a gun, he cannot contact any of Reagan’s children, his victim’s families, nor actress Jodie Foster, whom Hinckley became obsessed with prior to the 1981 assassination attempt. Hinckley was believed to have shot Reagan to gain Foster's attention. 

Hinckley's shooting paralyzed Reagan press secretary James Brady, wounded Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and police officer Thomas Delahanty.

U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman said Hinckley does not have symptoms of acute mental illness nor does he have violent behavior or taken any interest in weapons since 1983. 

"If he hadn’t tried to kill the president, he would have been unconditionally released a long, long, long time ago,” the judge said. “But everybody is comfortable now after all of the studies, all of the analysis and all of the interviews and all of the experience with Mr. Hinckley.”

"There is no evidence of danger whatsoever," Hinckley's lawyer said.

Prosecutor Kacie Weston says the Justice Department agreed to a settlement to monitor Hinckley for the next nine months because he’ll be living on his own for the first time in 40 years and his primary doctor is retiring and disbanding Hinckley’s therapy group.

"Ultimately your honor, at this point, the ball is in Mr. Hinckley's hands," Weston said.

In 1982, a jury found Hinckley not guilty by reason of insanity, after the verdict Hinckley was committed to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., where he lived for three decades. In 2020, the Department of Behavioral Health determined Hinckley is at “low risk for future violence.”