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Reagans Blast Hinckley Release

The man who tried to kill President Reagan won permission for unmonitored visits with his parents, a decision the former president's oldest son called "an outrage."

U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman did not grant John Hinckley Jr.'s full request to travel to his parents' home in Williamsburg, Va., reports CBS News Chief White House Correspondent John Roberts. Instead, he will be allowed six one-day trips within a 50-mile radius of Washington, D.C., and then possibly two overnight visits. He must stay with his parents at all times and stay away from his former girlfriend, Leslie Deveau, and the media.

Michael Reagan on Thursday said his family wasn't surprised by the ruling.

"This is just another step in him finally being free for all time," the former president's son told Co-anchor Hannah Storm on CBS' The Early Show.

"Just to have him out and to have him be free is an outrage," he added.

While government lawyers fought Hinckley's request, U.S. Attorney Roscoe C. Howard Jr. took some solace in Friedman's rejection of any visits outside the Washington area.

"In light of the evidence, we believe the court properly denied Mr. Hinckley's request for overnight and day visits to his parents' home," he said. "Our concern, among others, has always been whether Mr. Hinckley will endanger himself or others if granted an unescorted release."

Hinckley, 48, has lived at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington since 1982, when he was acquitted by reason of insanity in the shootings of President Reagan, presidential press secretary James Brady, a Secret Service officer and a policeman. Mr. Reagan was nearly killed and Brady was permanently disabled. Hinckley said he shot Mr. Reagan to impress actress Jodie Foster.

Shortly after the ruling, former first lady Nancy Reagan said she and her family were disappointed.

"Although the judge limited Mr. Hinckley's travel to the Washington, D.C., area, we continue to fear for the safety of the general public," she said in a statement. "Our thoughts are with all of Mr. Hinckley's victims today, especially Jim Brady and his family, as they must continue to live with the tragic consequences of the assassination attempt."

The former president suffers from Alzheimer's disease and is being cared for at home in California.

Hinckley has been allowed supervised visits off the hospital grounds for several years and has made about 200 such trips to theaters, bowling alleys, beaches and bookstores.

Hospital officials have said there have been no problems with Hinckley on his supervised trips away from the hospital. The Secret Service watches Hinckley whenever he leaves the hospital.

Michael Reagan questioned whether Hinckley's parents were up to the task of supervising him alone.

"You're going to ask two 80-year-old parents who love their son to make sure they monitor their son and make sure he takes his medication," he said.

During five days of hearings on Hinckley's request, 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.

"Every expert … — not only Mr. Hinckley's expert witnesses but also the expert witness retained by the government — have expressed their opinion that under a highly structured, limited conditional release, Mr. Hinckley will, to a reasonable medical certainty, not be a danger to himself or others," Friedman said in a 50-page opinion.

Hinckley's lawyer, Barry W. Levine, said his client was entitled under the law to receive unsupervised visits, and the judge's conditions should alleviate any concerns about public safety.

"The rule of law applies equally to Mr. Hinckley as to everyone else," Levine said. "An opposition based on fear or an opposition based on a need for revenge or a sense of bitterness is an opposition that is sadly but woefully misplaced."

Daniel Dodson, a spokesman for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said it was not unusual for people found not guilty of a crime by reason of insanity to receive unsupervised visits as their mental health improved.

"The whole purpose of putting them in an institution is to make them better," Dodson said. "If this case was not such a high profile case, this would not be an action that anyone would be taking a look at."

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