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Hinckley's Trips Not Publicized

The government has dropped its opposition to allowing presidential assailant John W. Hinckley Jr. to take supervised day trips from the mental hospital where he has been confined since 1982.

Justice Department spokesman Myron Marlin confirmed the government let Monday's deadline pass without appealing to the Supreme Court for review of a lower court decision. He declined to give a reason.

Over prosecutors' opposition, a three-judge federal appeals panel granted permission in January for supervised trips away from St. Elizabeths Hospital. The full U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia refused to reconsider the decision in April.

Hinckley has been confined to St. Elizabeths since 1982, when he was acquitted by reason of insanity in the 1981 shooting attack on President Reagan outside a Washington hotel.

Mr. Reagan, press secretary James Brady and two law enforcement officers were wounded in a shooting that Hinckley later said was an attempt to impress actress Jodie Foster.

Prosecutors, who argued against the off-campus visits, said Hinckley remains disturbed and unpredictable.

Hospital officials have said that as part of his treatment, he should be allowed visits off hospital grounds, supervised by hospital staff.

Hinckley's lawyer, Barry Levine, was not immediately available for comment. In April, he said supervised day trips would not pose a risk to the public. "Mental health professionals who know him are of the view that John Hinckley is not a danger to anyone," Levine said at the time.

The appeals court's ruling gives hospital officials discretion to decide when and where Hinckley can take supervised day trips. The Secret Service and U.S. attorney's office are to be notified whenever a trip is planned.

In 1986, Hinckley left the hospital for a visit with his family during the Christmas holiday. Levine said. After that, prosecutors sought a court order that they be notified before such excursions.

A federal judge had turned down Hinckley's request for a Christmastime visit with his parents and girlfriend in 1997. Hinckley appealed to the three-judge appeals panel that cleared the way for his off-campus visits.

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