John W. Hinckley Jr., the man who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981, will now be allowed to publicly display his writings, paintings, photographs and other artwork.
The almost-assassin turned artist has previously released and displayed his works anonymously, but a federal judge ruled Wednesday that Hinckley may now put his name on his works as part of ongoing therapy.
Judge Paul L. Friedman of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia wrote that Hinckley had remained “mentally stable” since 2016, when he was released from the psychiatric facility he had been confined to for decades, according to the New York Times.
Hinckley now lives with his mother in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Since 2018, the 65 year old has posted his music on SoundCloud and YouTube – with the help of his music therapist – but has been frustrated with the lack of feedback he’d received from the small number of people who have come across his anonymous work. His treatment team requested that he be allowed to use his name.
And it has been approved.
You’d think that privilege would be lost after trying to murder the president of the United States, but clearly anything is possible.
Upon release of his works, Hinckley must notify the forensic outpatient department and his treatment providers so he can discuss the feedback he receives with his doctors, the Times reports.
And, “if clinically indicated, they may terminate [his] ability to publicly display his creative works,” Friedman wrote.
In an interview, Hinckley said he wants to make money off his art.
“I create things I think are good and, like any other artist, I would like to profit from it and contribute more to my family,” he said. “I feel like I could help my mother and brother out if I could make money from my art.”
But, it remains unclear whether the judge’s order will allow Hinckley to profit from the sales.
On March 30, 1981, Hinckley – 25 years old and suffering from acute psychosis – fired six shots, seriously injuring President Reagan outside a hotel in Washington.
Caught in the crossfire were James S. Brady, the White House press secretary; Timothy J. McCarthy, a Secret Service agent; and Thomas K. Delahanty, a Washington police officer.
James Brady sustained permanent brain damage and eventually died from his injuries in 2014.
In 1982, Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity, a decision that shocked much of the country. He was sent to St. Elizabeth’s, a psychiatric hospital, where he remained until 2016.
Though he’s been awarded arguably too many freedoms, he still faces several prohibitions, including continued restriction of contacting Jodie Foster, members of the Reagan family, or members of James Brady’s family.
Judge Friedman said that Mr. Hinckley “will not pose a danger to himself or others due to mental illness if permitted to continue residing in the community” under the terms of his release, according to the Times.