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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2:32am

Fri September 12, 2014
Law

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

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

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

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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3:36pm

Thu September 4, 2014
Law

Holder Says Ferguson Probe Will Look For Source Of Police Mistrust

Originally published on Fri September 5, 2014 9:09 am

Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday that the Justice Department's civil rights division will launch a broad civil rights investigation in the Ferguson, Mo., police department.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

The Justice Department has launched a broad investigation into the actions of police in Ferguson, Mo. A white police officer there shot an unarmed 18-year-old black man last month, touching off protests and episodes of violence.

Attorney General Eric Holder says he's taking a closer look to get to the bottom of deep mistrust of local police.

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1:34pm

Wed September 3, 2014
The Two-Way

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

Originally published on Wed September 3, 2014 2:36 pm

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

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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4:08pm

Fri August 29, 2014
Governing

Legal Questions Loom As Obama Weighs Military Action In Syria

Originally published on Fri August 29, 2014 7:40 pm

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

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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2:47am

Thu August 28, 2014
Law

Former Border Protection Insider Alleges Corruption, Distortion In Agency

Originally published on Thu August 28, 2014 7:53 am

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

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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2:41am

Thu August 21, 2014
Around the Nation

Holder Seeks To Soothe Nerves During Visit To Ferguson

Originally published on Thu August 21, 2014 12:07 pm

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

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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3:16pm

Mon August 18, 2014
Law

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

Originally published on Mon August 18, 2014 5:18 pm

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

4:16pm

Thu August 14, 2014
It's All Politics

Attorney General Holder: Ferguson Scenes Cannot Continue

Originally published on Thu August 14, 2014 6:59 pm

Attorney General Eric Holder at a July 14 press conference. On Thursday, Holder outlined the federal response to recent events in Ferguson, Mo.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Attorney General Eric Holder says federal investigators have already conducted interviews with eyewitnesses to the shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager in Ferguson, Mo., even as he pledged new assistance from the Justice Department to quell "extreme displays of force" and militarization by heavily armed local police there.

"It is clear that the scenes playing out in the streets of Ferguson over the last several nights cannot continue," Holder said.

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2:49am

Wed August 6, 2014
Politics

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

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 9:55 am

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

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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3:09pm

Tue July 29, 2014
Law

Coaches Help Released Inmates Step From The Cell Into A Job

Originally published on Tue July 29, 2014 6:31 pm

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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3:28pm

Mon July 21, 2014
Law

By Putting Interrogations On Tape, FBI Opens Window Into Questioning

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 5:35 pm

Transcript

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia already record questioning of people in police custody. But federal law enforcement had long refused to take that step until this month. Mark Giuliano is the deputy director of the FBI - the highest ranking agent in the bureau.

MARK GIULIANO: So it used to be that we actually had to get permission to record. And now we're at the point where we actually have to get authority not to record.

JOHNSON: The world has changed, and Giuliano says the FBI is starting to change along with it.

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3:05pm

Fri July 18, 2014
Law

Unanimous Vote Could Mean Reduced Penalties For 46,000 Defendants

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 6:54 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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3:06pm

Wed July 16, 2014
Law

With A Rules Change For A Lever, Senate Ends Judge's 17-Year Wait

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 12:00 pm

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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3:02pm

Thu July 10, 2014
Law

Justice Dept. Declines To Step Into Dispute Between CIA And Senators

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 6:04 pm

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 sensitive materials on enhanced interrogations. The power struggle relates to a long-running Senate probe over the mistreatment of detainees after Sept. 11.

1:59pm

Thu July 10, 2014
The Two-Way

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

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 2:32 pm

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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