Attorneys for would-be assassin John W. Hinckley Jr. and the government debated a modified plan on Thursday that would give the 57-year-old more freedom to leave the psychiatric hospital where he has lived since he was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the shooting of President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

St. Elizabeths Hospital has asked a federal judge to expand Hinckley’s unsupervised visits to his mother’s home in Williamsburg. The proposal would eventually allow Hinckley to live full-time in Williamsburg.

Hinckley’s attorney Barry Wm. Levine on Thursday compared federal prosecutors’ pursuit of his client to Moby Dick’s Captain Ahab and angrily accused them of delaying the proceedings because of the government’s request to review the hospital’s modified proposal for Hinckley’s mental health treatment.

“This is a prescription, like everything they’ve ever done, for delay,” said Levine. Hinckley, he said, regularly volunteers at a hospital in Williamsburg and has “thrived” during his visits. “He has been very compliant with every one of the conditions of his release,” Levine said.

After days of hearings last year, the centerpiece of the hospital’s previous plan fell through. Assistant U.S. Attorney Colleen M. Kennedy told the judge on Thursday that the change was “significant” and requested another hearing to allow the government’s experts to examine the newly configured mental health team.

U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman agreed to hold another hearing, but also expressed concern about further delay. He said he would schedule a hearing for February or March.