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They’re Haunted by ‘Ghost Warrants’ Years after Their Arrests

The Marshall Project

By Eli Hager

Last month, Causey Davis found himself in handcuffs in the back of a New Orleans police cruiser, bewildered. Held there for over an hour, he was finally informed that an inaccurate arrest warrant—which court records show was dismissed 25 years ago—had somehow appeared under his name in the cops’ computer system. “You should get that fixed,” the officers told him, he said.

It’s not the first time Davis, 54, has been arrested or thrown in jail on a “ghost warrant,” as such criminal records that refuse to die are known. In 2014, 2015 and 2017, jail records show, he was locked up based on a 2006 conviction for writing bad checks at a Walmart in Arkansas—where he’d been temporarily relocated after his home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina—even though his sentence of probation should have long since expired.

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