Destroyed Records

NYU Press
Publication Type:
Ghost Criminology The Afterlife of Crime and Punishment, 2022, pp. 155-155
Issue Date:
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Abstract: Destroying records, documents and evidence is a commonly-used bureaucratic technique for mitigating the potential dangers of their dissemination. This occurs where evidentiary material contains, for instance, biohazardous substances such as blood, or contaminants such as asbestos, or other illicit ingredients, such as narcotics. Smuggled wildlife is frequently euthanised. Legal and administrative records will be retained for a prescribed period, after which they may be destroyed. Certain public records, in order to preserve secrecy or confidentiality, may be redacted, cancelled or deleted. This chapter discloses the range of ways that criminal evidence and records are destroyed or damaged as legitimate state practices. What remains of these destructive practices are ghostly apparitions, spectres of crime, and these generate new spectacles and new fears. This chapter understands these destructive state practices as acts that invoke ghosts. These ghosts are the traces of dead records, documents and evidence, things that were killed in the administration of justice.
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