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
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

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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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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The Two-Way
3:32 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

No Criminal Charges In Senate-CIA Spat, Justice Department Says

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein alleged in March that the CIA violated federal law by searching computers used by her staff. On Thursday, the Justice Department declined to bring criminal charges against anyone at the CIA or the Senate panel.
Jim Lo Scalzo EPA/Landov

The Justice Department has declined to bring criminal charges against anyone at the CIA or the Senate Intelligence Committee in a dispute over access to documents about the enhanced interrogation program the U.S. deployed against detainees after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Prosecutors notified the Senate panel Thursday of their decision, a muted end to a power struggle that had undermined relations between the intelligence community and its chief overseers on Capitol Hill.

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The Two-Way
2:27 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Case Against Benghazi Suspect Is Complex, Justice Department Says

Ahmed Abu Khattala, an alleged leader of the deadly 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
AP

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 3:01 pm

The Justice Department says its case against a man accused in the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, is unusually complex and involves "novel questions of fact and law."

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Around the Nation
4:59 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Small But Steady Downward Trend In U.S. Executions

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 1:32 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Here's a little-noticed fact about the death penalty. We've heard a big debate about how to execute people - lethal injection, electric chair, firing squad. That debate obscures a little-noticed fact - the number of people executed by any method is way down in the United States in recent years. NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson has been covering this story. She's in our studios. Hi, Carrie.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: How far down?

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The Two-Way
12:03 am
Thu June 26, 2014

Report Questions U.S. Policy On Overseas Drone Strikes

An unmanned U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan, in 2010. A new report questions the U.S. policy of using armed drones abroad to carry out attacks on suspected terrorists.
Kirsty Wigglesworth AP

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 3:18 am

U.S. strategy that relies on armed drones to kill terrorism suspects overseas "rests on questionable assumptions and risks increasing instability and escalating costs," according to a year-long study by a group of prominent military, intelligence and foreign policy experts.

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Politics
5:04 am
Wed June 25, 2014

Murdered Voting Advocate's Brother Wants Protections Back

David Goodman and Stosh Cotler of Bend the Arc at the U.S. Capitol.
Carrie Johnson NPR

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 6:51 pm

One year ago, the Supreme Court threw out a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The law gave the federal government a kind of veto power over voting arrangements in states with a history of discrimination. Now, without those protections, civil rights activists say many states are moving polling places and enacting laws that disproportionately hurt minorities.

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National Security
5:59 am
Tue June 17, 2014

Overtime System At Customs And Border Protection Investigated

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 5:11 pm

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Whistle-blowers at U.S. Customs and Border Protection say employees there are abusing an overtime program designed for law enforcement emergencies. A federal watchdog says even desk workers in the agency have been claiming routine overtime every day and that is costing taxpayers $40 million a year. NPR's Carrie Johnson reports.

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National Security
6:55 am
Tue June 10, 2014

Internal Affairs Chief Fired At U.S. Customs And Border Protection

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 8:23 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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National Security
8:14 am
Mon June 9, 2014

FBI Director Comey Looks Ahead To His Next Nine Years

FBI director James Comey wants the agency to get better at preventing crimes and improve diversity. He has another nine years and three months to do that.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Mon June 9, 2014 9:33 am

FBI Director Jim Comey brushed back a dark curtain last Thursday morning and emerged to greet his audience, Tonight Show style.

"I feel like a talk show host," Comey told a group of new recruits, the first hired on his watch since he joined the FBI nine months ago.

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Law
5:11 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

Prison Rape Law A Decade Old, But Most States Not In Compliance

Texas Gov. Rick Perry says following federal standards for the Prison Rape Elimination Act is too burdensome for states.
Tom Pennington MCT/Landov

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 7:29 pm

The clock is ticking on a decade-long effort to prevent sexual violence inside American prisons. In a recent survey, the vast majority of states said they will try to comply with federal rules. But several others, led by Texas, have protested to the Justice Department.

Jan Lastocy served 15 months in a Michigan prison for attempted embezzlement — her first brush with the law. The assaults began when a new corrections officer showed up at the warehouse where she had been assigned to work as a secretary.

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Law
5:31 am
Tue June 3, 2014

Justice Department Renews Focus On Homegrown Terrorists

Originally published on Tue June 3, 2014 9:42 am

The U.S. has devoted billions of dollars to fighting terrorism overseas in the years since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Justice Department is increasingly warning about the danger posed by radicals on American soil, and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder wants prosecutors and FBI agents to devote more attention to the threat.

Nearly two decades ago, after the Oklahoma City bombing killed 168 people, the Justice Department launched a group to fight domestic terrorism.

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The Two-Way
4:47 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

House Vote Aims To Derail DOJ Processing Of Clemency Petitions

Originally published on Fri May 30, 2014 6:41 pm

The House of Representatives has voted to prohibit the Justice Department from hiring more attorneys to deal with thousands of backlogged clemency petitions in a bid to block one of the Obama administration's top criminal justice priorities.

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Law
4:27 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Criminal Records Keep Creating Obstacles Long After Incarceration

Originally published on Fri May 30, 2014 11:55 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa block. More than 65 million Americans have some kind of rap sheet. That's more than one in four adults. Criminal records follow people for the rest of their lives, and those black marks can hurt chances for housing and employment. Well today a new report says it's time to start thinking about forgiveness. NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson has the story.

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The Two-Way
8:43 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Holder Urges Prosecutors To Back Criminal Justice Changes

Attorney General Eric Holder took his case for overhauling the criminal justice system to an unlikely location on Wednesday — a closed-door conference of prosecutors, who were meeting at their national training center in Columbia, South Carolina.

According to a person familiar with Holder's unpublicized remarks, Holder urged an audience of criminal division chiefs from U.S. Attorney's offices to support Smart on Crime initiatives that would reduce some drug sentences and to open up the clemency process to hundreds of inmates with clean records in prison.

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Politics
5:47 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

A Year On, What's Changed (And What Hasn't) On Drone Oversight

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 6:04 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The ability to monitor remotely is one hallmark of the post 9/11 world. Another is the ability to kill remotely. It's what the drone has made possible. But now the practice known as targeted killing may become harder to veil in secrecy. NPR's Carrie Johnson reports.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: One year ago in that speech at the National Defense University, President Obama defended his use of drones as legal and effective. But he also acknowledged the practice raises moral questions.

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The Two-Way
5:30 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

New DOJ Policy Urges Agents To Videotape Interrogations

Department of Justice

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 6:49 pm

Senior Justice Department officials have quietly notified U.S. attorneys and federal agents that they're establishing "a presumption" that agents will electronically record statements made by individuals in their custody.

In a memo obtained by NPR, Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole strongly encourages agents to videotape suspects in custody before they appear in front of a judge or magistrate on federal charges. The memo says FBI special agents in charge of field offices or U.S. attorneys can override the policy if they have good cause to set it aside.

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National Security
4:10 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Senate Advances Judicial Nominee Who Wrote Drone Strike Policy

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 9:21 pm

The Senate will consider a judicial nominee who wrote legal advice approving drone strikes against Americans overseas. Critics question executive branch authority to execute citizens without trial.

Law
4:00 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Slow Rape Kit Results Leave Victims Few Effective Places To Turn

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 7:59 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Sexual assaults are now reported more often, but the Department of Justice says non-reporting still remains the rule. In fact, the DOJ says, only one in three victims reports the crime to police. Even fewer receive any social services. A new study finds that a lack of money and training often complicates the problem. NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson has more.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: After Emma Wagner was assaulted by a stranger last year, her first reaction was to hunker down, afraid of what would happen next.

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Law
5:10 am
Wed May 14, 2014

Judicial Nominee On Hold Over Drone Strike Justification

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 7:27 am

Harvard law professor David Barron is under fire for signing memos that allowed the U.S. to kill a U.S. citizen overseas in a drone strike. Those blocking his nomination want the documents released.

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