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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6:32pm

Thu May 14, 2015
It's All Politics

After Baltimore And Ferguson, Major Momentum For Criminal Justice System Reform

Originally published on Fri May 15, 2015 9:09 am

Demonstrators participated in a March2Justice for criminal justice reform legislation outside the Capitol in April. Lawmakers who are working to on fixes to the justice system say recent unrest is pushing them to act.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Lawmakers working on fixes to the justice system say that unrest in places like Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore is pushing them to act.

"The whole idea of a young man dying in police custody, the confrontations with police, the looting and burning of innocent minority owned businesses," Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said on the Senate floor this month. "The question arises, what can we do?"

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5:03am

Wed May 13, 2015
It's All Politics

Court Throws Out Nun's Sabotage Conviction For Nuclear Site Break-In

Originally published on Wed May 13, 2015 9:51 pm

Anti-nuclear activists Gregory Boertje-Obed, Sister Megan Rice and Michael Walli in Knoxville, Tenn., in 2013.
Linda Davidson The Washington Post/Getty Images

From the moment she was taken into custody in 2012, outside a building that stores enriched uranium in Oak Ridge, Tenn., Sister Megan Rice has argued she has been driven by one thing — a desire to spread a message.

"And we all know that nuclear energy is linked inextricably with nuclear weapons," Rice told a group of activists in remarks captured on YouTube.

Prosecutors accused her of violating the Sabotage Act, intending to hurt the government's ability to wage war or defend itself.

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1:56pm

Tue May 12, 2015
It's All Politics

Reagan Shooter John Hinckley's Lawyers Say He's Ready To Be Free

Originally published on Tue May 12, 2015 4:34 pm

John Hinckley currently enjoys 17-day visits to his mother's home in Williamsburg, Va., every month. Prosecutors voiced concern over what would happen when his 89-year-old mother dies.
Steve Helber AP

A lawyer for John Hinckley told a federal judge Tuesday that it's time to grant the thwarted presidential assassin the power to leave a psychiatric hospital and live full time with his elderly mother in Virginia.

"Every witness agrees that he's ready and every witness agrees that the risk of danger is decidedly low," lawyer Barry William Levine argued.

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4:34pm

Fri May 8, 2015
It's All Politics

Justice Dept. Hopes Investigation Will Create A 'Stronger' Baltimore

Originally published on Fri May 8, 2015 10:38 pm

Attorney General Loretta Lynch, seen here with Baltimore police Commissioner Anthony Batts, met Tuesday with the city's police officers, faith leaders and the family of Freddie Gray.
Getty Images

The new U.S. attorney general said she watched the scenes of riots on the streets of Baltimore last week, her first day in office as the country's top law enforcement officer.

"I would have to say that my first reaction was profound sadness, it truly was," Loretta Lynch said.

But after meeting with community leaders and clergy Tuesday, and hearing their frustration over the death of a 25-year-old man who suffered a spinal injury in police custody, Lynch said her sadness hardened into resolve.

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5:15pm

Thu May 7, 2015
The Two-Way

FBI Says It Sent Bulletin On Texas Assailant Hours Before Attack

Originally published on Thu May 7, 2015 6:01 pm

FBI Director James B. Comey takes a question during a news conference in March. Comey says the FBI issued a bulletin to local law enforcement about one of the Garland, Texas, assailants three hours before the attack.
Joshua Roberts Reuters/Landov

Updated at 6 p.m. ET

FBI Director James Comey says the bureau issued a bulletin on one of the two assailants at a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, just three hours before the attack earlier this week.

Comey told reporters Thursday that the FBI had sent an Intel Bulletin to local law enforcement with a photo of Elton Simpson, his license plate number and other information without stating directly that he was heading to Garland.

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4:29pm

Thu May 7, 2015
It's All Politics

New Public-Corruption Chief Vows To Not Shy Away

Originally published on Thu May 7, 2015 6:16 pm

The U.S. Department of Justice building in Washington, DC.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Veteran prosecutor Raymond Hulser has been promoted to lead the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section, the unit that goes after corrupt public officials including lawmakers, judges and military contractors.

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8:25am

Sat May 2, 2015
Law

Georgia Settles Case Alleging Assembly-Line Justice For Children

Originally published on Sat May 2, 2015 10:26 am

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

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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4:01pm

Thu April 30, 2015
It's All Politics

Can't Get A Job Because Of A Criminal Record? A Lawsuit Is Trying To Change That

Originally published on Thu April 30, 2015 8:19 pm

Tyrone Peake says he's been fired from three jobs because a crime he committed more than 30 years ago is still on his record.
Carrie Johnson NPR

Outside an apartment building on Broad Street, along the county line in Philadelphia, birds outnumber the rush-hour traffic.

"It's nice and quiet compared to other neighborhoods which I lived in," said Tyrone Peake, 52.

In 1981, when he was just 18, Peake was arrested with a friend for trying to steal a car to take a girl home after a long weekend.

"No, we never got the car," Peake said. "We broke the ignition column and then the cops came."

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5:02pm

Fri April 24, 2015
It's All Politics

Young Trafficking Victim's Story On NPR Leads To Senator's Amendment

Originally published on Fri April 24, 2015 6:55 pm

"I never thought that my story would have touched somebody so much that they went in front of Congress to present a bill," the young woman, whom NPR is not naming, said of Shaheen. "There's a lot of voices out there that can't tell her thank you."
Evie Stone NPR

Hearing the words of a 24-year-old victim of human trafficking — and her struggle to wipe away her conviction on prostitution charges — inspired New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

That young victim, who was featured in an NPR story in February, endured years of rapes and brutal assaults by pimps who forced her into prostitution.

"I'm not ever going to forget what I've done or what I've gone through. But at the same time, I don't want it thrown in my face every time I'm trying to seek employment," she said. "I don't want to have to explain myself every time."

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2:07pm

Thu April 23, 2015
It's All Politics

Senate Confirms Loretta Lynch As Attorney General

Originally published on Thu April 23, 2015 2:23 pm

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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4:27pm

Wed April 22, 2015
It's All Politics

Man Who Shot Reagan Seeks Release From Mental Hospital

Originally published on Wed April 22, 2015 7:59 pm

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

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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3:38pm

Wed April 15, 2015
Law

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

Originally published on Sun May 3, 2015 8:17 pm

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

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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12:19pm

Wed April 15, 2015
It's All Politics

Congress Says It Will Not Tolerate 'Agents Gone Wild'

Originally published on Wed April 15, 2015 5:53 pm

"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

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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4:04am

Wed April 15, 2015
Law

A Decade After Blowing The Whistle On The FBI, Vindication

Originally published on Wed April 15, 2015 10:00 am

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

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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8:18am

Sat March 21, 2015
Law

Justice Department Weighs In On Assembly-Line Justice For Children

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

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

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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