The 21st Show

Our Pension ‘Crisis’ Mentality; ‘Never Sentenced, Never Released’; Student Debt And Buying A House


401(K) 2012/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

On The 21st: Why is using the word 'crisis' detrimental when we're talking about Illinois' pension situation? Plus, Terry Allen has been in an Illinois prison for 36 years, even though he was never sentenced for the crime that got him there in the first place. And, we'll talk about how difficult it can be for those with student debt to become homeowners. 

If you follow state politics, there’s a good chance that “pension” makes you think “crisis.”

Certainly state pensions are a big challenge for Illinois. But according to Amanda Kass and David Merriman, the way we’re talking about this issue is actually making it harder to solve the problem. They, along with their colleague Bob Bruno, say it’s time to change the conversation about the state’s finances.

Amanda and David both joined us on the line now from UIC. Amanda is associate director of their government finance research center, and David is a professor of public administration at the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs.


You've probably heard of being held without bail. Or in prison without parole. But have you heard of being in prison without being convicted of the crime that got you there?

It turns out hundreds of people across the country are incarcerated without those convictions. That's the subject of a new podcast from the Frontline Dispatch that was produced in collaboration with WBEZ Chicago.

WBEZ Reporter Max Green tells the story of one such man- Terry Allen. He was 23 when he was arrested for an alleged sexual assault. He was never convicted. But, almost 40 years later he's at a prison in Jefferson County, and he's never had a release date.

We also spoke with Frontline Dispatch producer Sophie McKibben from Boston.


Student debt can create more than just a financial burden. It can hurt your chances of getting a job. It slows down your retirement savings. It can even stall your marriage plans, according to some studies.

And a survey shows that young people with student debt are finding that to be a huge obstacle when it comes to buying a home. That’s according to Country Financial, which is based in Bloomington.

Dennis Rodkin from Crain’s Chicago Business recently wrote about this, and he joined us from Chicago. Natalia Abrams also spoke with us. She’s the Executive Director of StudentDebtCrisis.Org, which is based in Los Angeles.

Vikas Gandhi, who Dennis featured in his Crain’s piece, also shared his story with us. He’s 29 and lives in Chicago. And knows about this student debt issue first hand, when it comes to trying to buy a home. 

Story source: WILL