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Driven Into Debt: How Chicago Gets Trapped by Parking Tickets, Fines and Fees

In partnership with The Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago and WBEZ Chicago

Parking meters. City stickers. Winter parking bans. They are among the many bright-orange vehicle tickets issued to Chicago motorists that generate millions of dollars in desperately needed cash each year for the City of Chicago. But ticket enforcement is not created equal.

Paying for tickets can be difficult, opening the door to more fees, spiraling debt, and tough punishments from the city and state – often leading to license suspensions, job restrictions and bankruptcy. The stories from our “Driven Into Debt” series show how the working poor, and particularly African American motorists and neighborhoods, bear the heaviest brunt of ticket fines and penalties.

During this event, you’ll hear from ProPublica Illinois reporter Melissa Sanchez and WBEZ digital editor Elliott Ramos, who will share what they found while investigating vehicle tickets and the stories of everyday people saddled by debt. You’ll also get a live tutorial on our interactive database, The Ticket Trap, which allows you to explore how the city tickets and collects debt. A panel of experts will discuss how municipal fines and fees affect people, and an open Q&A will allow attendees to share their experiences with vehicle tickets, ask questions about the impact on their neighborhoods and think through possible changes to the system.

Our panelists include:

  • Mary Pattillo, Harold Washington Professor of Sociology and African American Studies at Northwestern University
  • Stacey Sutton, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and Policy in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs (CUPPA) at the University of Illinois Chicago
  • Kasey Henricks, Assistant Professor in Sociology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Doors open at 5:00 p.m. and refreshments will be served. The discussion begins at 6:00 p.m. The event space is also wheelchair accessible. Persons with disabilities who anticipate needing accommodations or have questions about access are asked to email [email protected] in advance of the event.

Check back here soon for full livestream footage and event summary videos will be shared soon.

This event has ended.

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