Stories by DePaul’s Center for Journalism Integrity and Excellence

Melzinnia Connolly, of Norwood Park, on Feb. 6, 2024. Connolly has been diagnosed with nerve damage and was prescribed opioids. (DePaul’s Center for Journalism Integrity and Excellence)

Chronic Pain Patients Suffer From Opioid Epidemic Overcorrection

According to the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program, both the number of opioid prescriptions written and the number of patients served dropped by almost half since 2015.

Jail personnel go through stacks of letters and books in the mail room at Cook County Jail on Oct. 12. All mail coming into the jail has faced greater screening methods since the paper restriction began in April. (Cary Robbins / DePaul)

Paper Restrictions at Cook County Jail Signal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Concerns

Since the beginning of 2023, Cook County Jail administration has reported 16 deaths in custody, with five attributed to overdoses, according to Cook County Medical Examiner records. To address the uptick in overdose deaths, jail leadership took unprecedented measures, including what some called a facility-wide paper ban. 

(DePaul’s Center for Journalism Integrity & Excellence)

Fake Taxis: Consumers Concerned Over Lack of Action by Chicago Officials

Those impersonating licensed drivers can easily order counterfeit rideshare company stickers or magnetic taxi labels online. Other tactics include claiming their payment system is malfunctioning so that the ride must instead be charged on third-party payment platforms.

Alex Quenan and Roxy Stendera met in a recovery program three years ago. (Courtesy of Stendera and Quenan)

Finding Love With Mental Illness: Those With Anxiety, Depression Say They Must First Swipe Right on Themselves

On Bumble, users may enter their height, occupation and political alignment. Tinder lets users list their Zodiac sign, alma mater and link a music app to show off their favorite artists. But for those dealing with mental illness, there’s no box to check to help disclose the ongoing struggles present in their lives.

An empty lot along the Dan Ryan Expressway owned by the CTA.

Park & Ride Disparities Leave South Side Red Line Commuters Without a Spot

Despite thousands of daily passengers, the CTA’s parking availability pales in comparison to other major cities.

Due to the lack of  CTA-provided parking options, South Side commuters are often forced to park on streets, sometimes illegally, risking a ticket or a tow. If they choose to drive the entire commute, they’ll face a packed Dan Ryan Expressway and expensive downtown parking. 

An advertisement from the underground Jane Movement of the 1960s and 1970s for people seeking an abortion.

As Supreme Court Prepares to Rule on Roe, Illinois Once Again Ground Zero for Abortion Access

Could it mean the return of the Jane Collective for a new era?

If Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in June, states neighboring Illinois are poised to further restrict abortion access. Illinois organizations, both for and against abortion, are bracing for the influx of people who will likely turn to Illinois providers. 

(WTTW News)

Designed to Reduce Cook County Jail Population, Electronic Monitoring System May Produce False Readings

In the county’s electronic monitoring program administered by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s office, defendants wear an ankle monitor equipped with GPS and cellular tower tracking technology. Some say the readings are not always accurate, leading to incorrect reports of violations. 

(HeartlandMom / Pixabay)

Long After COVID-19 Infection Ends, Some Still Face Distorted Senses of Taste and Smell

According to a November study, researchers estimate that anywhere from 700,000 to 1.6 million people in the U.S., are currently experiencing chronic smell loss or distortion because of COVID-19. For several Chicago-area residents, the loss persists. 

(Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Where Does the City Plant Trees? A Ward-by-Ward Analysis

Chicago has a long history of segregation and racial inequity. Now, a new data analysis by the DePaul University Center for Journalism Integrity & Excellence shows inequity is rooted even in the planting of city trees.

(Creative Commons / Jeremy Atherton)

Chicago’s 2008 Climate Action Plan Came Up Short, New Analysis Shows

Advocates say laws, not plans, are needed

Three mayors in the past 15 years have all promised to combat the effects of global climate change. But some critics and scientists, along with a new data analysis by the DePaul University Center for Journalism Integrity & Excellence, reveal their efforts have fallen short. 

(WTTW News)

Lightfoot Cracks Down on Speeding Violations as Traffic Fatalities Rise

Starting Monday, the city of Chicago is jacking up fines for speeding violations near schools and parks — and that has the mayor at odds with some aldermen. Carol Marin and students from DePaul University’s Center for Journalism Integrity and Excellence have the story. 

The town of Washington in central Illinois.

Local Pandemic: A Small Town’s Fight Against COVID-19

Seven years ago, the town of Washington in central Illinois was hit with a tornado. Now, some say the COVID-19 shutdown is an even bigger disaster.

(WTTW News)

Problem Gamblers Look For Help as Illinois Increases Gaming

State promises budget boost for programs

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, gambling in Illinois was spreading like wildfire, with more places to make a bet than Nevada. But is the state upholding its promise to provide addiction services at the same pace it expands gambling?

Women Forced to Choose Between Food and Menstrual Products

Nearly 25 million American women living below the poverty line are faced with a terrible choice every month: whether to spend money on menstrual hygiene products or other necessities. We explore what’s called period poverty – and the movement to end it.

Bubbly Creek: An Environmental Quagmire for Federal Agencies and Local Activists

More than a century after Upton Sinclair described a stretch of the Chicago River as “a great open sewer,” Bubbly Creek is still plagued by waste – and the restoration process has been mired in its own political muck.

(Photo by Cody Corrall / CJIE)

Booting by Private Companies Remains Source of Tension Between Drivers, Businesses and Aldermen

Leave your car unattended in a private lot and you may pay the price

If you park in a private lot and get booted it will cost you nearly three times what the city charges for a regular parking ticket. For more than 15 years it’s been a controversial – and sometimes maddening – fact of city life.

Sanctuary Restaurants Offer Support to Employees, But Little Protection

Chicago has dozens of “sanctuary restaurants,” but like “sanctuary city,” the term is not a legal designation. So what exactly does it mean?

Since coming to the U.S. a decade ago, Alejandra Duran-Arreola is on the cusp of becoming a doctor.

DACA Repeal Puts Med Students in Murky Waters

The possibility of a DACA repeal, its impact on the Illinois health system and the future of medical students: A special report from DePaul University’s Center for Journalism Integrity and Excellence.

In Illinois, Marijuana Laws Struggle to Keep Up With Times

As legislators in Springfield debate the future of marijuana, some believe there is a major disconnect between Illinois’ laws and shifting public opinion. 

Chicago Gun Offender Registry Called Into Question

With the city’s mounting gun violence, some remain skeptical about the effectiveness of a little-known city ordinance called the Gun Offender Registry. A special report from DePaul University's Center for Journalism Integrity and Excellence.