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'Trapped in a cycle': Kansas City man's hope for full expungement put on hold

Kevin Morgan
Posted at 9:06 PM, Jul 19, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Just as quickly as freedom is given, it can be taken away — Kevin Morgan knows that better than anyone.

​"You want me to spit a bar, okay I got a bar for you," Morgan, the founder of Sent1OneMinistries, said.

He has freedom in his music, freedom in what he preaches in his sermons, and he gives men transitioning from incarceration or struggling with homelessness the freedom to have an identity through his ministry.

"We want [them] to get set up, to get [their] own place eventually," he said.

However, decisions Morgan made 10 years ago could stick with him for life.

"I got caught up in the drug world and ended up getting a couple possession charges," he said.

Who you're hearing from is not the same Morgan from back in 2013.

"I was crushed, because I wanted to be a substitute teacher to get my feet wet with this bachelor’s degree," Morgan said. "I see all these jobs I can get and the first thing that pops up was, you can't get it because you have a felony on your record, but I'm a whole changed man."

Missouri Senate Bill 189 was actually going to be Morgan's saving grace, until it was vetoed.

"I did nine years of supervised incarceration and I feel like my time was served," he said. "When that bill got vetoed, it's like, what's next? What hope do I have?"

The absence of hope for Morgan is not stopping him from giving it to others. His generosity starts with giving people in need a roof over their heads.

"In Isaiah 6:8, he said, 'Here I am, send me and I'll go,'" Morgan said. "And I believe we all are sent ones."

Even if it means the thought of legislation eventually passing remains just a thought for now.

"Man, I would go fishing right now, have a BBQ with my family and say 'Look, I'm free.'"

Morgan is free in other ways that aren't always easy to explain.

"Because of the God that's in me, it helps me say man listen it's not over," he said.

UMKC's Clear My Record Project advocates for legislation like Senate Bill 189.

They told KSHB 41 they've had 900 applicants for expungement and the bill would have made 10% of them who were previously ineligible, eligible to start the process.

"These are individuals who have lives and had hope, and we were letting them know hope is dashed for at least another year," said Sydney Ragsdale, supervising attorney for UMKC's Clear My Record project. "This was bipartisan legislation that people in Missouri wanted."

Missouri Gov. Parson had concerns with language in the bill and while the decision was disappointing, the clinic said his stance was valid.

State law doesn't allow for someone to have more than one felony conviction sealed. SB 189 would've made it possible for applicants trying to get help from the clinic to have their records expunged under the extended course of conduct provision.

It applies to previous offenders with eligible felonies from when they were under the age of 25. It would've also applied to people with a series of offenses during a period of addiction if they are drug-free.

"[They] Made two or three mistakes when they were young and they’re stuck with them for the rest of their lives and now they’re 50 or 60 or people who went through a period of addiction and did all the hard work to get clean and they’re stuck with that record and trapped in a cycle of poverty because of it," Ragsdale said.

The clinic is hoping adjustments are made and the bill can be passed when legislators are back in session.