TheGrio Daily

The Real Purge

Episode 72

“When the police come and arrest you and charge you with a crime, you’re still technically according to the law, innocent.” Being poor should not keep you in prison, in fact the U.S. Constitution states that practice is illegal, yet it happens every day all across the country. Michael Harriot takes a look at proposed purge laws that are designed to keep suspects out of prison until they are actually found guilty of a crime. TheGrio Daily is an original podcast by theGrio Black Podcast Network. #BlackCultureAmplified


[00:00:00] You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, Black Culture Amplified. 

Emergency Alert System [00:00:06] This is not a test. This is your emergency broadcast system announcing the commencement of the annual purge sanctioned by the U.S. government. Weapons of Class four and lower have been authorized for use during the purge. 

Michael Harriot [00:00:20] You heard right. I hope you’ll catch all, like, bowling arrows. And, like, what do people like what do preppers get? I guess you got to get an ax. You always need an ax and a chainsaw. And you’ll haven’t heard, like, it’s like this is like two more months, and the purge will be here. Ya’ll haven’t heard? Well, in that case, welcome to theGrio Daily, the only podcast that’s going to tell you about the coming Negro purge. I’m world famous wypipologist Michael Harriot, and this is theGrio Daily. If you haven’t heard about this, Illinois and a few other states in the country have either passed bills or have suggested bills, legislation that people are calling purge laws. 

Newscast [00:01:17] Illinois will be the first state in the nation to end cash bail starting next year, and that is sparking a concern that more criminals could be out on the street. The new law that goes into effect January 1st, 2023, gets rid of cash bail entirely. It also limits who can be arrested and held in jail based on the crime they’re alleged to have committed. 

Michael Harriot [00:01:37] Basically, these are laws that say that many of the things that you could be arrested for and put in jail, you can’t be you can no longer be detained for. But some of them are as serious as like assault and battery, drug dealing. And people are saying, like, they’re just going to give people a ticket for attempted murder. And some of the laws even do say that. But, to understand what’s happening, you have to understand a few things. And that’s what we’re going to talk about if you want to understand this law. So the Illinois law is called the Safe-T Act. Like that’s an acronym that stands for something. But, you know, legislators love acronyms. I don’t know why, but, you know, white people like acronyms. Like, you know, like the only acronym I love is a, you know, Operating Under The Krooked American System Too Long that’s OutKast, pronouncer OutKast. And you know the Good Die Young Over Mostly Everything that’s Goodie Mob. But you know besides those two I don’t subscribe to most acronyms. I don’t believe in acronyms. 

Michael Harriot [00:02:54] But the Safe-T Act basically says that from now on, a lot of criminal acts will be, you know, police still will investigate. You will still get in trouble for them. The penalties for those acts haven’t changed. It’s just that like when you arrested for them, they’ll pick you up, you know, book you, and then they a judge will determine if you a threat to society and then release you. And people are saying that this is crazy. For instance, you know, usually like I know you’ve probably seen this like, you know, a white person, I’ll kill somebody and they’ll get like an $18 bond and then a Black person will be kicked, get caught, you know, spitting out of his window at the police and get like a $2 million bond. And we’re like, you know, raise the bond. Or, you know, you always hear somebody talking about, you know, a random person was murdered by someone who was out on bail. And so that shows that, you know, our bail laws are too lax. 

Michael Harriot [00:04:08] But what these so-called purge laws address is an issue that I have been screaming about for a long time. So first you have to know. The American Constitution says that you can’t criminalize it. It outlaws what we used to call Paupers Prison. Basically, you can’t criminalize somebody, it’s not a criminal offense to be poor. And not only is not it not a criminal offense to be poor, you can’t, like, incarcerate somebody for not being able to pay a debt. So, you know, that is a provision provided in the Constitution and it is kind of embedded in a couple of different amendments. But again, it is a protection afforded by the U.S. Constitution. Now, you know how the Constitution works. For a long time, Black people didn’t get the same kind of constitutional laws that white people get. And I say for a long time, because, you know, things might change between the time that I’m recording this and the time that you’re watching it. But when I say for a long time, it means for all of the history that America has existed. 

Michael Harriot [00:05:26] But, lately, and I’m not talking about just lately. I’m talking about since we’ve been here, Black people have been fighting against this. And the way that they’ve been fighting about it is that they’ve been trying to outlaw cash bail. And I know you’re thinking like, why would they outlaw cash? But because it’s unconstitutional, right? So first of all, you should know that there is no data that says, like, people who get a higher bond won’t commit crimes. It just makes it harder for them to get out of jail. And after they’ve been arrested and of course, we all know that Black people are unjustly arrested more than white people. In fact, Black people who are arrested or more likely to not be convicted and white people who are arrested are usually convicted for harsher crimes than they’ve been arrested for. So, in other words, white people get the benefit of the doubt. They don’t even get arrested. Like I know you’ve seen on TV where they said, like this white person, you know, is accused of murder. So like he turned himself in or the police are waiting for him to turn themselves in. And you’re like, oh, you could do that. Like I didn’t like. 

Michael Harriot [00:06:47] You ever seen a Black person turn themselves in? Like, remember, like they didn’t even let O.J. turn himself in. They, like, chased him down the freeway. But again, this goes back to the Constitution, right? So, again, this is a couple of different amendments that combined to make this this idea. Right. One is, you know, and I’m sure you’ve heard this. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. So when the police come and arrest you and charged with a crime, you’re still technically, according to the law, innocent. But most people who are in jail in the United States. Like almost 80% of the people in jail, not in prison, not incarcerated, not, you know, in state prisons, but just in city and county jails are there because they couldn’t pay their bond. Right. Like and then, like the average person in a jail in America for more than 30 days earns less than $10,000 a year. 

Michael Harriot [00:07:55] So, although we like to believe that, you know, you’re innocent until proven guilty. If someone could charge you with a crime and incarcerate you because you don’t have the money, then you are paying a penalty as an innocent person. Because until you go before a judge, you’re innocent. What does this have to do with these purge laws? Well, these are the things that these purge laws are trying to address again. When I talk about these people who are in city and county jails, it ain’t like, you know, it’s a whole vacuum or different universe. We’re paying for that and we are subsidizing the police, the criminal justice system that is criminalizing poverty. Again, these people are in jail are innocent because they haven’t been proven guilty. And they can’t pay to get out. Even if it is assault. Even if it is, you know, a violent crime. Well, the U.S., the Constitution and precedent, legal precedent provide for this. Right. 

Michael Harriot [00:09:16] So it’s not just that, you know, the prisoners or police can detain you. Right. They say that the only way that the criminal justice system, who a person can be detained is for two reasons. One is if there is a chance that they will flee. So you’re charged with a crime and if the police have a valid reason to believe that you won’t show up to your court date, like you got a passport or you are not from the place that they arrested you or you are, you know, you have been obviously making plans to dodge to them, then they can hold you or detain you or charge you with a high bill. The other provision is if you’re a danger to society. So if you are a serial killer and you, you know, you can’t stop killing women, then the police, you know, have to and the judge has to weigh that against your the possibility that you’re innocent. Right. So you could you’re still deemed innocent until proven guilty. But the judge can’t risk, you know, you going out and killing 17 more women if you’re a serial killer just because he wants to show that you’re guilty. So they hold you in jail. 

Michael Harriot [00:10:43] But for years, people have said, like, why don’t you just like if somebody is that kind of a danger, why don’t you just keep them in jail until their court date and then speed up because the Constitution provides for a speedy trial, why don’t you just speed up the time that, you know, instead of making a week for two years to have a trial, give them a speedy trial and prove that they are guilty or just hold them in jail. Because if you set a $2 million bond, then the only barrier  for them to get out and kill more people is just money. So rich white people can get out to kill more people. But the Black dude who, you know, sold no coke on the corner, he’ll get a $2 million bond while posing no real threat to society. So these are the the arguments for people who are for ending what we call the cash bail system. Doesn’t make any sense. Right. You shouldn’t be held inside a jail as an innocent person. And the only avenue for your release or your freedom is how much money you’ve got, whether you’re a rich white person or a poor Black person or vice versa. Right. So what has been happening all across the country is not that people have been asking state legislatures to change this. They just been suing. You hold me in court it’s against the Constitution. I am going to sue you or the city or the county or the state for violating my civil or Constitutional rights. And all over the country, states and cities and municipalities, have been losing. Like we talk about the money we lose for police brutality. But like these kind of small, relatively small constitutional violations cost billions of dollars. Every year. 

Michael Harriot [00:12:48] You pay them. Again, you, the taxpayer, you’re paying for that jail maintenance, you’re paying for that lawsuit, you’re paying for that civil liability. And then you also have to pay for your city to be bonded or what they call it insured by the same companies that issue bail. So, these new laws are addressing that not because they’re doing the right thing, not because of a woke agenda. Not because liberals have taken over. Not because we want to, you know, release the purge on a city. Because the Constitution says it. And. Here’s the thing, right? There are cities that have been doing this for years. Los Angeles has quietly been doing this for a year. And guess what happened? It makes cities safer. Like hell the does it make cities safer to let people out of jail? Well, if you’re in jail for 30 days and you make less than $10,000 a year and you’re released you found innocent or guilty, when you’re released what option do you have in the society that we live in besides crime? Like none. 

Michael Harriot [00:14:15] So we’ve been not only incarcerating because it is incarceration, innocent people, but, let’s say innocent or let’s say you’re on the precipice of becoming a criminal and you arrested and you got to spend a bunch of time in jail for a crime, whether you committed it or not, you have spent a bunch of time in jail, who’s in that jail with you? What are you learning? You’re learning from other people who are criminals. And it changes your values. If you had leaned towards criminality in the first place, now is like somebody sending you to crime college. So, it not only increases poverty, but it also criminalizes stuff like drug use. Because if you are arrested for possession and you have the disease of addiction. Then when you get out, you’re not going to get treatment because you don’t have money now. You don’t have a job now. And you’ve been incarcerated. So you’re more likely to commit a crime to facilitate your addiction. But in Los Angeles, what they found and in cities that have tried this around the country, what they found is it actually decreases crime. It absolutely does not increase crime. Because if a killer was on the loose or, you know, any kind of violent actor was on the loose and the thing that prevented them from getting out of prison was money and they were still going to get the money if they could get the money and get out anyway. But these laws provide protection from those people. 

Michael Harriot [00:16:14] And it’s not like they’re letting all the attempted murderers and all the rapists and all the drug dealers out of jail. Nah, what they’re saying is you either got to prove that they are a danger according to the Constitution. You’ve got to prove that they might flee or you got to adhere to the laws to which we all agreed upon. And that’s what these purge laws mean. So don’t worry. The, I don’t know, the white people killer is not going to be knocking on your door demanding that he slit your neck or you give him all the Kool-Aid in the house. Don’t worry, the streets are not going to be filled with rapists and drug dealers, unless, of course, your streets are already filled with rapists and drug dealers. But this law isn’t going to change that because the previous laws didn’t prevent that. What’s going to happen is that people finally are going to be innocent until proven guilty. What’s going to happen is that people who are not white are going to be protected by the Constitution that governs our country. What’s going to happen is that, okay I was gonna say liberty and justice for all but that’s just crazy. But in any case, don’t forget to download theGrio app. Don’t forget to tell a friend about this podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe and listen and do all of the things that we want you to do. And as always, we’ll leave you with the famous Black saying. And today’s Black saying is “you’ve got to pay the costs to be the boss or to be Black.” If you like what you heard, please give us a five star review. Download theGrio app. Subscribe to the show and share it with everyone you know. Please email all questions, suggestions and compliments to podcasts at 

[00:18:14] You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, Black Culture Amplified.