Carrie Johnson

Carrie Johnson is a Justice Correspondent for the Washington Desk.

She covers a wide variety of stories about justice issues, law enforcement and legal affairs for NPR's flagship programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as the Newscasts and NPR.org.

While in this role, Johnson has chronicled major challenges to the landmark voting rights law, a botched law enforcement operation targeting gun traffickers along the Southwest border, and the Obama administration's deadly drone program for suspected terrorists overseas.

Prior to coming to NPR in 2010, Johnson worked at the Washington Post for 10 years, where she closely observed the FBI, the Justice Department and criminal trials of the former leaders of Enron, HealthSouth and Tyco. Earlier in her career, she wrote about courts for the weekly publication Legal Times.

Outside of her role at NPR, Johnson regularly moderates or appears on legal panels for the American Bar Association, the American Constitution Society, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and others. She's talked about her work on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, PBS, and other outlets.

Her work has been honored with awards from the Society for Professional Journalists and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. She has been a finalist for the Loeb award for financial journalism and for the Pulitzer Prize in breaking news for team coverage of the massacre at Fort Hood, Texas.

Johnson is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Benedictine University in Illinois.

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Politics
4:25 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

Attorney General Nominee Faces Senate Judiciary Committee

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 6:20 pm

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Law
4:24 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

No Federal Charges Expected Against Darren Wilson

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 8:05 pm

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Law
5:00 am
Tue January 6, 2015

Senate Slow To Schedule Hearings For Attorney General Nominee

Originally published on Thu January 8, 2015 3:28 pm

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All Tech Considered
5:49 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

Prosecutors Say Tools For Hiding Online Hinder Cybercrime Crackdowns

Using Tor, or The Onion Router, enables users to hide their online activities. Advocates say the network protects the privacy of activists. But prosecutors say it's used extensively by criminals — and is making it harder for law enforcement to do its job.
Daniel Acker Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 1:30 pm

Prosecutors say tools that cloak online identities are complicating their efforts to police all kinds of crime.

Take the case of a former head of cybersecurity for the Department of Health and Human Services, Timothy DeFoggi. Prosecutors say they found graphic images of children on a laptop computer in his home.

DeFoggi once led cybersecurity efforts for HHS, but in this case, the Justice Department says, he used his expertise to hide from the law, along with other users of child porn sites, on a network called Tor.

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The Two-Way
12:25 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

Deputy Attorney General Reflects On Controversies, Successes

Deputy Attorney General James Cole
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri January 2, 2015 6:23 pm

It has been called one of the hardest jobs in the U.S. government.

The deputy attorney general is second in command at the Justice Department, responsible for sensitive prosecutions and monitoring threats from al-Qaida and the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

James Cole, who has had the job for four years — longer than anyone since the 1950s — is leaving soon. He sat down this week to reflect on his tenure.

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Law
3:37 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Sentenced For Life, Inmate Still Holds Hope For Release

David Padilla with his grandchildren. Seventeen years ago, a judge found Padilla guilty of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
Courtesy of the Padilla Family

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 8:29 pm

Thousands of people sentenced under the tough drug laws of the 1980s and '90s are still behind bars, serving mandatory minimum prison sentences requiring them to spend decades, if not life, in prison. Nowadays people convicted of the same crimes serve far less time.

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Law
4:48 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

After 17 Years Behind Bars, Coming Home To A Different Life

Stephanie George (right) with her daughter, Kendra, and son Courtney. They were 5 and 8 when she went to prison on a drug charge. Last December, President Obama commuted her sentence.
Marisa Peñaloza NPR

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 4:45 pm

When she went to prison on drug charges, Stephanie George was 26 years old, a mother to three young kids.

Over 17 years behind bars, her grandparents died. Her father died. But the worst came just months before her release.

"I lost my baby son," George says, referring to Will, shot dead on a Pensacola, Fla., street.

"I feel bad because I'm not coming home to all of them, you know," sobs George, now 44. "He was 4 when I left, but I miss him."

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Law
4:27 am
Tue December 16, 2014

From Judges To Inmates, Finding The Human Casualties Of Mandatory Sentencing

NPR's series looks at the human toll of mandatory minimum prison sentences. The White House and the Justice Department have taken the unprecedented step of asking for candidates who might win early release from prison through presidential pardons or commutations in the final years of the Obama presidency.
Dan Henson iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 2:34 pm

The United States spends nearly $7 billion a year to operate a network of federal prisons that house more than 200,000 inmates. About half of them are incarcerated for drug crimes, a legacy of 1980s laws that prosecutors use to target not only kingpins but also low-level couriers and girlfriends. Multiple convictions for small-time offenses under those laws mean thousands of people are locked up for decades, or even the rest of their lives.

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Law
5:11 am
Fri December 5, 2014

DOJ Probe: Cleveland Police Engaged In Unreasonable Force

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 6:22 pm

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Law
4:07 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Justice Department Says Cleveland PD Has Pattern Of Excessive Force

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 7:15 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Law
6:15 am
Thu December 4, 2014

Justice Department To Continue Investigating Eric Garner's Death

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 7:57 am

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's pursue some unanswered questions about the death of Eric Garner.

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It's All Politics
10:02 am
Tue November 25, 2014

Federal Ferguson Investigation Will Remain Independent, Holder Insists

Attorney General Eric Holder visited Ferguson, Mo., in August, where he met with elected and police officials and community members.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 8:15 am

This post was updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

Attorney General Eric Holder says "far more must be done to create enduring trust" between police and communities they serve, even as his Justice Department continues to investigate possible discriminatory police actions in Ferguson, Mo.

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Law
6:36 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

Ferguson Readies For Grand Jury Decision

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 10:15 am

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The Two-Way
10:17 am
Fri November 21, 2014

Holder Calls For Calm As Ferguson Grand Jury Decision Looms

Attorney General Eric Holder, pictured Sept. 4, says "durable relationships between police and their communities do not develop overnight."
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Fri November 21, 2014 3:49 pm

Attorney General Eric Holder is urging law enforcement officers and protesters to keep the peace as a grand jury decision nears about whether to indict white police officer Darren Wilson for shooting dead a black 18-year-old who was unarmed in Ferguson, Mo.

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It's All Politics
7:39 pm
Mon November 3, 2014

New Attorney General Not Likely Until 2015

Loretta Lynch, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, speaks during an April news conference in New York. Lynch is now a leading favorite to replace Eric Holder as U.S. attorney general.
Seth Wenig AP

Originally published on Mon November 3, 2014 9:04 pm

Officials in the U.S. Senate and the executive branch increasingly expect the next attorney general to win confirmation in 2015, rather than pushing a candidate through during the lame-duck session of Congress later this year.

The current occupant of the job, Eric Holder, nodded to that likely possibility last week in a conversation at the Washington Ideas Forum in D.C., telling an interviewer he would probably stay until early February, marking six years as the country's top law enforcement officer.

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National Security
6:30 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

Security Beefed Up At Federal Buildings Across U.S.

Originally published on Tue October 28, 2014 8:27 pm

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Law
11:11 am
Fri September 26, 2014

Victories For LGBT, Civil Rights Among Holder's Legacy

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The Two-Way
11:07 am
Thu September 25, 2014

Eric Holder To Step Down As Attorney General

Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during a Sept. 4 news conference at the Justice Department in Washington.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Fri September 26, 2014 8:29 am

This post was last updated at 4:44 p.m. ET.

Eric Holder Jr., the nation's first black U.S. attorney general, will resign his post after a tumultuous tenure marked by civil rights advances, national security threats, reforms to the criminal justice system and 5 1/2 years of fights with Republicans in Congress.

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Law
7:40 am
Sat September 13, 2014

Domestic Violence Protections Still Resonate 20 Years After Crime Bill

Vice President Joe Biden hugs Ruth Glenn, of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, at a commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the Act. Glenn says that as a victim in 1992, there was no place to turn.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Sat September 13, 2014 12:47 pm

Twenty years ago today, former President Bill Clinton signed a massive crime-control bill that funded shelters for battered women and helped train police to investigate attacks. The anniversary of the law falls on a week when violence against women is front and center in the national conversation.

First, the Baltimore Ravens fired player Ray Rice after TMZ released a video where he knocked his then-fiancee unconscious. Then, a South African judge convicted sprinter Oscar Pistorius of negligently killing his girlfriend.

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Law
3:32 am
Fri September 12, 2014

20 Years Later, Parts Of Major Crime Bill Viewed As Terrible Mistake

Surrounded by lawmakers, President Bill Clinton hugs then-Sen. Joseph Biden after signing the $30 billion crime bill at the White House on Sept. 13, 1994.
Dennis Cook AP

Originally published on Fri September 12, 2014 1:41 pm

Twenty years ago this week, in 1994, then-President Bill Clinton signed a crime bill. It was, in effect, a long-term experiment in various ways to fight crime.

The measure paid to put more cops on the beat, trained police and lawyers to investigate domestic violence, imposed tougher prison sentences and provided money for extra prisons.

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The Two-Way
2:34 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

No. 3 Justice Department Official To Depart For The Private Sector

Associate Attorney General Tony West, at podium, speaks at the Justice Department in Washington on Aug. 21. West is preparing to announce he is leaving government for a job in the private sector.
Lauren Victoria Burke AP

Originally published on Wed September 3, 2014 3:36 pm

Updated at 3:20 p.m. ET

Associate Attorney General Tony West, the third in command at the U.S. Justice Department, is preparing to announce he will leave government for a job in the private sector, two sources familiar with the decision tell NPR.

In a statement, the Justice Department confirmed West's planned departure.

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Governing
5:27 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Legal Questions Loom As Obama Weighs Military Action In Syria

President Obama says he agrees that Congress should have buy-in on military intervention against the Islamic State.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 8:40 pm

The White House is working behind the scenes to develop a strategy for fighting the Islamic State in Syria, a strategy that could include airstrikes and other military action there. But there are already lots of questions in political and national security circles about the legal authority the Obama administration might use to justify those actions.

In the days after the Sept. 11 attacks, Congress authorized the White House to use military force — broad authority to strike against al-Qaida.

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Law
3:47 am
Thu August 28, 2014

Former Border Protection Insider Alleges Corruption, Distortion In Agency

James Tomsheck poses in his office in Washington in June 2009. At the time, he was assistant commissioner for internal affairs with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Alex Brandon AP

Originally published on Thu August 28, 2014 8:53 am

Two months ago, James Tomsheck was pushed out of his job as internal affairs chief for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

At the time, authorities criticized him for not doing enough to investigate abuse and corruption.

But now Tomsheck tells a very different story: about a culture that goes out of its way to evade legal restraints.

Use of force by law enforcement agents along the Southwest border has drawn attention and criticism recently, after reports that Border Patrol agents shot and killed unarmed migrants and faced no consequences.

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Around the Nation
3:41 am
Thu August 21, 2014

Holder Seeks To Soothe Nerves During Visit To Ferguson

Attorney General Eric Holder participates in a closed-door meeting Wednesday with students at St. Louis Community College, Florissant Valley.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Thu August 21, 2014 1:07 pm

The nation's top law enforcement officer traveled to Ferguson, Mo., on Wednesday to wrap his arms around a community in pain.

Attorney General Eric Holder hugged community leaders, a highway patrol captain and the mother of Michael Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old killed by a police officer earlier this month.

From the moment he walked into a soul food restaurant in Ferguson, the attorney general found friends and began getting reports on the community's mood after days of protests and sporadic violence.

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Law
5:27 am
Wed August 20, 2014

Rights Of Protesters, Media Misunderstood In Ferguson

Law enforcement officials move crowds gathering in Ferguson, Mo. toward the perimeter of the designated marching area after clashes erupted on August 19, 2014.
Brakkton Booker NPR

Originally published on Wed August 20, 2014 1:05 pm

In the days since a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., people have been on the streets to register their outrage.

But the police response to those protests has stoked nearly as much anger as the shooting did.

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Law
4:16 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

What Washington Can, And Can't, Do In Ferguson

Originally published on Mon August 18, 2014 6:18 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Law
7:16 am
Thu August 7, 2014

Long Process Begins To Win Non-Violent Drug Offenders Pardons

Originally published on Thu August 7, 2014 8:09 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Politics
3:49 am
Wed August 6, 2014

After Discrimination Finding, Jury's Out On Memphis Juvenile Courts

Juvenile wing of the Orleans Parish Prison in Louisiana. In Memphis, the juvenile court system was criticized for inadequate defense of their clients and treating minority children more harshly.
Richard Ross Juvenile In Justice

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 10:55 am

For people connected to the Memphis juvenile courts, April 2012 is unforgettable. That's when federal investigators determined that the Shelby County juvenile court system discriminated against African-American defendants.

The Justice Department said the system punished black children more harshly than whites. In the most incendiary finding, investigators said the court detained black children and sent them to be tried in the adult system twice as often as whites.

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Law
4:09 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Coaches Help Released Inmates Step From The Cell Into A Job

Originally published on Tue July 29, 2014 7:31 pm

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Law
4:19 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

Unanimous Vote Could Mean Reduced Penalties For 46,000 Defendants

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 7:54 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now to a major decision that could bring big changes to as many as 46,000 prison inmates. Those are people convicted of drug crimes, and today, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted unanimously to reduce prison sentences for drug defendants who are already behind bars. This would start next year. NPR justice correspondent, Carrie Johnson, has our story.

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