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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Law
6:55 am
Thu March 26, 2015

Republicans Join Fight To Reduce Prison Terms For Drug Crimes

Originally published on Thu March 26, 2015 9:17 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Law
7:29 am
Sat March 21, 2015

Justice Department Weighs In On Assembly-Line Justice For Children

A 12-year-old on trial in the stabbing death of a 9-year-old talks to his lawyer in 2014 in a Michigan circuit court. The Justice Department is targeting a Georgia case in the hopes of making legal representation for juveniles there more effective, but they say the problems occur nationwide.
Chris Clark Landov

Originally published on Sun March 22, 2015 1:46 pm

The Justice Department for the first time is weighing in on a state court case on whether some courts are depriving juveniles of their rights to a lawyer.

The department filed a statement of interest in a Georgia case that alleges that public defense in four southern counties is so underfunded that low-income juveniles are routinely denied the right to legal representation.

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It's All Politics
1:45 pm
Wed March 18, 2015

Attorney General Holder Jokes That Republicans Have 'A New Fondness For Me'

Attorney General Eric Holder has endured a rocky relationship with lawmakers during his tenure. But he's all they have until his successor is confirmed.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 6:00 pm

Attorney General Eric Holder joked Wednesday that given nearly six months of Senate delays in confirming his successor at the Justice Department, "it's almost as if the Republicans in Congress have discovered a new fondness for me."

"I'm feeling love there that I haven't felt for some time. And where was all this affection the last six years?" the attorney general asked, to laughter, in brief remarks at the Center for American Progress in Washington.

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The Two-Way
5:36 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

U.S. Attorney General Holder Denounces Police Shootings In Missouri

Attorney General Eric Holder denounces the shootings of Ferguson, Mo., officers and announces six pilot cities for a community trust and justice initiative.
Andrew Harnik AP

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 9:38 am

Attorney General Eric Holder has condemned the unknown assailant who shot two police officers overnight in Ferguson, Mo., as a "punk who was trying to sow discord" and said he hoped the "disgusting and cowardly attack" would not unravel the progress the community is making to restore trust in the police and the municipal courts there.

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Law
4:41 pm
Wed March 4, 2015

DOJ Report Reveals Pattern Of Racial Discrimination By Ferguson Police

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 8:29 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Law
7:06 am
Wed March 4, 2015

DOJ: Ferguson Police Routinely Discriminate Against African Americans

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 4:41 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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The Two-Way
2:37 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Source: Probe Of Ferguson Police Uncovers Racist Comment About Obama

Police officers watch protesters as smoke fills the streets of Ferguson, Mo., on Nov. 25, 2014.
Charlie Riedel AP

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 9:08 am

A federal civil rights investigation of the Ferguson, Mo., police force has concluded that the department violated the Constitution with discriminatory policing practices against African Americans, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the report.

The investigation, the source says, concluded that blacks were disproportionately targeted by the police and the justice system, which has led to a lack of trust in police and courts and to few partnerships for public safety.

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Law
4:15 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Community Policing Task Force Calls For Better Training, More Transparency

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 4:19 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Two-Way
4:12 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Task Force Calls For Independent Probes Of Police-Involved Shootings

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 6:38 pm

Law enforcement agencies should measure community trust the same way they monitor crime rates. That's among the recommendations of a task force established after police-involved killings of unarmed black people in Ferguson, Mo., in Cleveland and on Staten Island, N.Y.

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Law
4:38 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Little-Known Laws Help Sex Trafficking Victims Clear Criminal Records

This woman, who has had her prostitution charge wiped away, says she got the lotus tattoo to cover up the brand of a former pimp. "Once they put their name on me, I was their property," she adds. She says she got the word "persist" tattooed as a reminder to keep moving forward.
Evie Stone NPR

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 9:05 am

Advocates for women arrested on prostitution charges want the justice system to adopt a different approach. They say instead of being locked up, many prostitutes should actually be considered victims of human trafficking. And they're starting to offer those women a way to clean up the criminal records left behind.

One of them lives in an apartment not far from Dallas. Inside, a 24-year-old woman pushes up her sleeve to show off a tattoo of a lotus flower. The deep purple ink covers up an older mark.

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Law
4:16 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Advocates Hope 'Vacatur' Laws Will Help Prostitutes Clear Their Records

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Law
4:08 am
Thu February 5, 2015

Supporters Say Imprisoned Nun Is Being Held In 'Unfair' Conditions

Sister Megan Rice ahead of her 2013 trial in Washington, D.C. In 2012, she and fellow anti-nuclear activists successfully broke into the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., to draw the world's attention to the danger of nuclear weapons.
Linda Davidson The Washington Post via Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 9:44 am

Megan Rice celebrated her 85th birthday last week — in a high-rise detention center in Brooklyn. The Catholic nun is serving nearly three years in prison for evading security and painting peace slogans on the walls of a nuclear facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Rice is far from the only religious figure to run into legal trouble. There's a long tradition of Catholic clergy protesting nuclear weapons, from the Berrigan brothers in the 1980s to the fictional nun Jane Ingalls, featured in the series Orange is the New Black.

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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

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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

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

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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

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

Transcript

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

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

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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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