That is the question before D.C. District Judge Paul Friedman who is trying to decide whether allowing attempted assassin John Hinckley more visits to his family home creates any more danger to himself or society.
Though officials from St. Elizabeth's Hospital, where Hinckley resides, say Hinckley has been free of any real mental illness for years, prosecutors oppose the new proposal, which would allow for six two-week visits and a one-month stay at his parents home in Williamsburg, Va. Their concern: that his parents are aging, that he has no work lined up, and that he would only see a psychiatric official once a week.
"The hospital's plan is ill-conceived," said Thomas Zeno of the D.C. U.S. Attorney's Office during a hearing today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
But Hinckley's lawyer Barry Levine disagreed. He said that it was "crystal clear" that there was "no prospect of such danger." Hinckley is also asking the court to stop requiring him to give the U.S. Secret Service two weeks notice before he leaves the hospital. The reason: it bars him from certain activities, especially baseball games, which the hospital often gets last-minute tickets.
Testimony from Hinckley's older brother and sister seemed to back up Levine. Both said that Hinckley's home visits have been wonderful and that he's shown no signs of mental illness. Hinckley's had a chance reacquaint with family members and gotten to know some new ones. He helps with household chores and hopes to help care his parents as they grow older. He's even
written and sung his own songs for the family.
And, both siblings said, they would play a significant role in his care, even though it means regular travel from their homes in Dallas, Tex.
Indeed, Hinckley's family seems to be preparing for him to someday make Williamsburg his permanent home. That is, of course, if Friedman gives him a chance to test out these longer visits.