Lufkin man supports sex offender law challenge

Lufkin man supports sex offender law challenge
Joseph Reynolds prepares to begin work that pays for the support of his family and parole expenses. (Source: KTRE)

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Joseph Michael Reynolds works hard, has a family, including a wife, daughters, and grandchildren.

The 52-year old also says with hesitation, [I’m a] "Registered Sex Offender"

In 1992 Reynolds was convicted of two sexual assaults of adult women. He received a 60-year prison sentence.

"And I have done 23 years, 10 months and 5 days on it before I made parole."

Texas expanded its sex offender laws in 2005.

"Now when I get out I find out I got to register."

In addition, the low-risk parolee must register every 90 days, spend hundreds of dollars for annual lie detector tests, sex offender treatment and monthly group sessions.

“It becomes a lot of money. It creates harm on the prisoners being convicted on an offense before they made these laws."

Reynolds believes the retroactive laws even affect the victims of sex crimes.

“Because now they got to look and say, ‘ah, there are these guys,’ every time they look on something, here these sex offenders.”

Reynolds must face the stigma of being a sex offender. It’s why he publicly advocates his support for changing the laws. He does it on behalf of those who won’t come forward.

"I'm not debating the time I was given. I have no problem with that at all. It's all the, what I call double jeopardy that they're making us do today."

The Texas Supreme Court will hear an appeal that applies to those people who got a deferred probation. They were promised in deals they wouldn’t have to be on the sex offender list after a certain amount of time.

An analysis of the Texas Registry by the Austin-American Statesman found that more than 2,800 sex offenders remain on the list despite being no longer required to register under terms of their probation.

Nacogdoches attorney Sean Hightower knows of similar, almost identical, challenges which went before the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The courts have never, as far as I can tell, have never found a challenge like this successful and it’s all had to be done thru legislative action."

And relaxing sex offender laws in Texas is not politically popular.

“In Texas, we have made some strides in de-registration. There is now a process that you can de-register from being a sex offender, but it’s extremely difficult because it’s all subjective," explained Hightower.

Reynolds receives no judgment from those who know him well. He will rely on his wife and others for support in the years to come. His parole ends in 2052. His reminder to those willing to listen is,

“It ain’t what my past makes me, it’s the choices I make today that makes me.”

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