“A lot of people we were interviewing were driving pretty fancy cars. We were stroking our chins, going: How did you afford that? It turned out that some of them were walking into dealerships and being told they couldn’t get financing for the Hondas they wanted, but could for a top-of-the-line Mercedes,” Ross says. “Why would a lender and dealer do that? Because they know they’re going to be able to repossess the car quickly.”

It wasn’t the only way formerly incarcerated people were targeted. For those who were Black, the heightened risk of being pulled over meant they were vulnerable to being reincarcerated for a minor traffic violation if an officer found out they had a prior felony conviction and were on parole. “Coming out of prison, when you get behind the wheel of a car, it puts you in the spotlight,” Ross says. While working with their formerly incarcerated peer researchers on the project, Ross noted, three of them were pulled over for minor traffic violations and ended up being incarcerated again.

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