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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Hinckley May Have Unsupervised Visits With Family During Daytime Hours

Aired December 17, 2003 - 16:16   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: More on that breaking story we told you about just a few moments ago. A judge ruling in Washington that John Hinckley, the man who tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan in 1981, may now have unsupervised visits with his family during the daytime hours.
Let's quickly go to our justice correspondent Kelli Arena. Kelli, you have a little more information on what that ruling says?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: I do, Judy. It's not exactly what John Hinckley Jr. wanted, but it's a start. He will be allowed six local visits, day visits with his parents. That has to be within a 50-mile radius of Washington, D.C. And those are to be followed by two 32-hour overnight visits, also with his parents within that same 50-mile radius.

John Hinckley had wanted to go to his parents' home, which is in Williamsburg, Virginia. That is something the judge apparently did not agree with.

But this release is conditional. In the first place, his parents have to take full responsibility. They must not let him out of their sight during any part of those visits. And they also have to check in daily with the hospital. Of course, he has to remain on his medication. If there's any sign of a problem he is to immediately return to the hospital.

There's also a restriction on who he can deal with. There was a woman that he was involved with who was also a patient with him at St. Elizabeth's. And he has been told very explicitly that there is to be no contact with that woman.

He's also not allowed any contact with the media. And the judge has very clearly said that if he or his parents try to contact the media, that that will be a violation of the release. And if there are any negative incidents with the public, or the media, they are to report those immediately to the hospital.

The hospital's also supposed to review how each of these visits goes before they grant the next visit. It's a much more incremental approach than John Hinckley's lawyers had presented to the court. But the hospital did say that this is part of his rehabilitation. It is the next step toward his return to normalcy.

They kept insisting that he was not sent to St. Elizabeth's for punishment, but for rehabilitation, and that this is part of that process -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Kelli Arena our justice correspondent with more on the decision in allowing John Hinckley some unsupervised visits with his family. Kelli, thank you very much.

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