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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It's All Politics
12:23 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Senate Confirms Loretta Lynch As Attorney General

Loretta Lynch testifies during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in January 2015.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

The Senate voted Thursday, 56-43, to approve the nomination of Loretta Lynch to serve as U.S. attorney general, ending a more than five month-long political impasse that had stalled her bid to become the first black woman to lead the Justice Department.

Lynch, 55, grew up in the shadow of the civil rights movement in North Carolina, where her family had preached for generations. Most recently, she prosecuted terrorists, mobsters and white collar criminals as the top federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, a district that covers 8 million people.

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It's All Politics
2:31 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Man Who Shot Reagan Seeks Release From Mental Hospital

John Hinckley Jr. arrives at U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., in 2003 to seek five-day, unsupervised visits with his parents at their home in Virginia. His current hearing is the seventh time a court has weighed gradually opening the door to Hinckley's freedom.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Wed April 22, 2015 5:59 pm

The man who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981 is making a new push for freedom.

John Hinckley Jr. was found not guilty by reason of insanity and confined to a mental institution for shooting the president, Press Secretary James Brady and two law enforcement officers. Now he's asking a federal judge to allow him to live full time with his mother in Virginia.

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Law
1:38 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

Former FBI Agent Speaks Out: 'I Was Not Protected'

FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 15, 2015 4:52 pm

Robyn Gritz spent 16 years at the FBI, where she investigated a series of major national security threats. But she says she got crosswise with her supervisors, who pushed her out and yanked her security clearance.

For the first time, she's speaking out about her situation, warning about how the bureau treats women and the effects of a decade of fighting terrorism.

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It's All Politics
9:45 am
Wed April 15, 2015

Congress Says It Will Not Tolerate 'Agents Gone Wild'

"I'm very concerned about the public's respect for law enforcement officers and the safety of those they are designed to protect," House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, seen here in 2013, told NPR. "This is a very important issue to me and one I intend to follow closely."
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Wed April 15, 2015 3:53 pm

Update at 2:30 p.m. ET

On Wednesday, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz and fellow committee members released a statement expressing "no confidence" in DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart.

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Law
2:04 am
Wed April 15, 2015

A Decade After Blowing The Whistle On The FBI, Vindication

Kobus alerted his managers that a supervisor was allowing favorite employees to take time off for their birthdays, so the government had to pay more for other people at the agency to work overtime. "You know, this is not our money. This is the taxpayers' money, and I want it to be correct," he says.
Courtesy of Robert Kobus

Originally published on Wed April 15, 2015 8:00 am

Robert Kobus doesn't fit the stereotype of the disgruntled employee. He worked in administrative jobs at the FBI for 34 years, and he says he's seen the bureau at its best.

"My sister Deborah Kobus was a 9/11 victim, and the FBI treated me so well during that time," he says. "You know they really cared. I had a lot of friends, I know how important it is to have a strong FBI."

His sister died in the World Trade Center's south tower. When he helped walk out the last piece of steel at the site, he proudly wore his FBI jacket.

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Law
5:11 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 11:46 am

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
11:45 am
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 4:00 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
3:36 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 7:38 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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The Two-Way
1:06 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 7:08 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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The Two-Way
1:22 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Task Force Calls For Independent Probes Of Police-Involved Shootings

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 4:38 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
2:50 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 7:05 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
4:26 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

FBI Director Wades Into Contentious Debate Over Policing And Race

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Law
2:08 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 7:44 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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Environment
2:22 am
Mon January 19, 2015

New Justice Department Environment Chief Takes Helm Of Gulf Spill Case

Cruden ranks the Gulf oil spill as one of the most significant environmental disasters of our time. It "deserves ... all of our energy to make sure nothing like this ever happens again," he says.
Gerald Herbert AP

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 5:37 am

John Cruden served with U.S. Special Forces in Vietnam, taking his law school aptitude test in Saigon and eventually becoming a government lawyer.

Earlier this month, he started a new job running the environment and natural resources division at the Justice Department. For Cruden, 68, the new role means coming home to a place where he worked as a career lawyer for about 20 years.

Cruden has been around long enough to have supervised the Exxon Valdeez spill case, a record-setter. That is, until the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

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Governing
3:05 am
Wed January 14, 2015

Tough Attorney General Pick Loretta Lynch Vies For Senate Confirmation

"They expect a certain amount of leniency or mercy from me, because I'm a woman, and if you've ever met my mother you should know that's not even in the cards," Lynch said in 2012. "She's much tougher than I am."
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 5:27 pm

President Obama's choice to be the next attorney general grew up in a state where her parents fought for the right to vote.

Loretta Lynch is a North Carolina native who hails from a long line of preachers. Her academic talent propelled her into some of the country's elite institutions.

Now Lynch is trying to win Senate confirmation as the top U.S. law enforcement officer, as the first black woman in line to hold that job.

Lynch was born 55 years ago, in Greensboro, N.C., where sit-ins and protests provided a soundtrack to her youth.

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Law
2:36 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

First Amendment Arguments Overshadow Sterling Espionage Case

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 2:21 pm

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

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All Tech Considered
4:36 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 11:30 am

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
10:25 am
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 4:23 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
2:39 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Judge Regrets Harsh Human Toll Of Mandatory Minimum Sentences

The shocking death of basketball player Len Bias from a cocaine overdose in 1986 led Congress to pass tough mandatory sentences for drug crimes.
AP

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 1:08 pm

It seems long ago now, but in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, murders and robberies exploded as cocaine and other illegal drugs ravaged American cities.

Then came June 19, 1986, when the overdose of a college athlete sent the nation into shock just days after the NBA draft. Basketball star Len Bias could have been anybody's brother or son.

Congress swiftly responded by passing tough mandatory sentences for drug crimes. Those sentences, still in place, pack federal prisons to this day. More than half of the 219,000 federal prisoners are serving time for drug offenses.

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Law
2:38 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 12:34 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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National Security
3:11 am
Tue December 9, 2014

As Torture Report's Release Nears, CIA And Opponents Ready Responses

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 10:27 am

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

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Law
2:57 am
Mon December 8, 2014

Justice Department Moves To Further Rein In Racial Profiling

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 5:44 am

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

Law
4:05 am
Thu December 4, 2014

Justice Department Plans New Cybercrime Team

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 11:17 am

The leader of the Justice Department's criminal division is expected to announce today the creation of a new unit to prevent cybercrime and work alongside law enforcement, private sector companies and Congress.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell will debut the initiative at a daylong CyberCrime2020 symposium at Georgetown University's law school, according to a copy of her prepared remarks.

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It's All Politics
8:02 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 6:15 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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The Two-Way
8:17 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 1:49 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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Law
3:37 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Brooklyn Prosecutor Could Be Nominated Attorney General In Coming Days

Loretta Lynch has handled or supervised a wide range of cases including New York police brutality against a Haitian immigrant, a $45 million cybertheft involving ATMs and the ongoing fraud prosecution of Republican Rep. Michael Grimm of New York.
Seth Wenig AP

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 3:59 pm

Two sources familiar with the process tell NPR that Loretta Lynch, the top prosecutor in Brooklyn, could be nominated by President Obama as attorney general in the coming days.

Lynch is the lead federal prosecutor in a district that serves 8 million people. But outside of law enforcement circles, this daughter of a preacher is not widely known. Friends say that's because Lynch prefers to let her cases speak for themselves.

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National Security
4:30 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

Security Beefed Up At Federal Buildings Across U.S.

Originally published on Tue October 28, 2014 6:27 pm

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

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It's All Politics
1:12 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

Labor Secretary Eyed As White House Searches To Replace Attorney General

Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez is a top candidate to be the next attorney general, according to sources familiar with the process.
T.J. Kirkpatrick Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 10, 2014 1:50 pm

NPR has learned Labor Secretary Thomas Perez is a top candidate to be the next attorney general. Three sources familiar with the process say the issue is on the desk of President Obama, who has yet to decide among a relatively short list of options.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in an email Friday that "we have no personnel announcements at this time."

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U.S.
8:16 am
Sun September 28, 2014

With The End In Sight, Holder Reflects On His Legacy

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, shown speaking at the Congressional Black Caucus legislative conference on Friday, will be stepping down from his position as soon as a replacement is appointed.
T.J. Kirkpatrick Getty Images

Originally published on Sun September 28, 2014 1:21 pm

A day after Attorney General Eric Holder announced his resignation, he made a long-planned visit to Scranton, Penn.

That's where he won his first big trial as a young public corruption prosecutor nearly 40 years ago. And he says coming to this federal courthouse now, returning to the site of his earliest legal success, makes sense.

"This, for me, was ... almost like completing a circle," he says. "I came here as a young and inexperienced trial lawyer and I came back as the head of the agency that I had just joined back in 1978."

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Law
9:11 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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