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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5:00pm

Tue July 28, 2015
It's All Politics

After Hope For Early Release, Prisoners' Applications Stuck In Limbo

Originally published on Tue July 28, 2015 6:31 pm

Dana Bowerman's lifelong best friend Michelle Elliott holds a photograph of the two together. Bowerman is serving a nearly 20-year sentence for federal drug conspiracy charges. She was holding out hope for clemency for nonviolent drug offenders but it is unlikely that she will receive an early release date.
Matthew Ozug NPR

It took a while for Dana Bowerman's long prison sentence to sink in.

Bowerman is a onetime honor student and cheerleader whose brassy personality cleared most obstacles from her path. But there was one hurdle her quick mind couldn't leap. In early 2001, Bowerman got sent away for nearly 20 years on federal drug conspiracy charges, her first and only offense. It wasn't until two years in, in her bunk behind a fence in a Texas prison, that her fate seemed real.

"It was a hard swallow," Bowerman said.

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7:57pm

Fri July 24, 2015
Law

Convicted Spy Jonathan Pollard Eligible For Parole In November

Originally published on Fri July 24, 2015 8:36 pm

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

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6:59pm

Thu July 23, 2015
The Two-Way

Official Watchdog Says He Needs Access To Sensitive Documents

Originally published on Thu July 23, 2015 9:12 pm

Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department's inspector general, testifies before a House committee in 2012 critical of the department's "Operation Fast and Furious." Thursday, he said a legal opinion from the department could block his office from getting documents crucial to his watchdog role.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

The Justice Department's top watchdog said Thursday a newly released legal opinion undermines his independence and makes it more difficult to do his job.

Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said the memo will delay access to grand jury, wiretap and other documents he needs to investigate problems at the Justice Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI and elsewhere.

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5:01am

Tue July 14, 2015
Law

Obama Shortens Prison Terms For 46 Drug Offenders, Vows More Commutations

Originally published on Tue July 14, 2015 1:03 pm

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

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10:38am

Mon July 13, 2015
It's All Politics

New Drug Agency Chief To Revive Take-Back Program

Originally published on Mon July 13, 2015 12:14 pm

"Probably the most shocking thing to me was the number of people that die every day in the United States from a drug overdose. I knew there was a problem. I knew it was big. I didn't know it was 120 people a day," acting DEA Chief Chuck Rosenberg said in his first interview since taking over at the agency.
Dennis Cook AP

When Chuck Rosenberg took the top job at the Drug Enforcement Administration two months ago, the longtime prosecutor had a reputation as "Mister Fix It."

The DEA has had a rough time lately — including scandals like agents at sex parties financed by drug cartels. He's now going to be keenly interested in the whereabouts of Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who recently escaped from prison.

But there was something else that has really taken Rosenberg's breath away these first few months on the job: drug overdose.

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1:55pm

Fri July 10, 2015
The Two-Way

FBI Says Background Check Error Let Charleston Shooting Suspect Buy Gun

Originally published on Fri July 10, 2015 3:40 pm

Dylann Roof appears via video at his bond hearing on June 19 in North Charleston, S.C. Roof is charged with nine counts of murder and firearms charges in the shooting deaths at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Getty Images

Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET

FBI Director James Comey said the man accused of killing nine people in a Charleston, S.C., church should never have been allowed to purchase a weapon.

Comey said flaws in paperwork and communication between a federal background check worker and state law enforcement allowed Dylann Roof to buy a handgun in South Carolina on April 16 — weeks before he allegedly attacked black churchgoers in a failed attempt to fuel a race war.

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5:49pm

Thu July 9, 2015
It's All Politics

FBI Says It Thwarted Attempted July 4th Attack

FBI Director James Comey speaks at FBI headquarters in Washington.
Evan Vucci AP

FBI Director James Comey said authorities have arrested "more than 10 people" over the past four weeks who have been radicalized through slick electronic recruitment efforts tied to the self-proclaimed Islamic state.

"We arrested them to try to thwart what they were up to," the FBI director said in a briefing with reporters Thursday in his Washington conference room.

"I do believe our work disrupted efforts to kill people, likely related to the Fourth of July," Comey added.

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11:48am

Fri June 26, 2015
Law

Breaking Down A Legal Landmark: The Justices' Opinions In Obergefell V. Hodges

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

2:34pm

Mon June 22, 2015
It's All Politics

Released From Prison, Nuclear Protest Nun Now Likely To Stay Free

Originally published on Mon June 22, 2015 3:29 pm

A sign warns against trespassing onto the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Sister Megan Rice and two other anti-war protesters cut through three fences and spray-painted slogans on the wall of a weapons-grade uranium facility in 2012.
Erik Schelzig AP

Federal prosecutors in Tennessee have notified an 85-year-old nun they will not seek to reinstate her sabotage conviction for breaking into a nuclear facility.

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12:28pm

Fri June 19, 2015
It's All Politics

Settlement Reached To Overhaul Mississippi Juvenile Courts

Originally published on Fri June 19, 2015 5:36 pm

The Department of Justice headquarters building in Washington.
J. David Ake AP

The U.S. Justice Department has reached a settlement with the state of Mississippi to overhaul the way young people are arrested and processed through the juvenile courts, NPR has learned.

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4:30pm

Tue June 16, 2015
Sports

FBI Investigates St. Louis Cardinals For Alleged Hack Of Astros System

Originally published on Wed June 17, 2015 6:20 am

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

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4:34pm

Thu June 11, 2015
National Security

Virginia Teen Pleads Guilty To Conspiring To Support Islamic State

Originally published on Thu June 11, 2015 6:53 pm

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

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5:02am

Thu June 11, 2015
It's All Politics

Experiencing The 'Realities Of Being A Police Officer'

Originally published on Thu June 11, 2015 1:42 pm

NPR reporter Carrie Johnson runs through a target practice drill with instructor Bryan Patterson as part of the Use of Force simulation at the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund in Virginia.
Ariel Zambelich NPR

The office hallway could be in Anytown, America, with its gray walls, bad lighting and piles of photocopy paper. That is, except for this distinguishing feature: an unknown man, armed with a weapon, who popped into view.

"Do I want to shoot this guy?" I asked the law enforcement trainer beside me.

The reply came fast: "Well, he's got a gun."

My weapon: a Glock equipped with a laser, not live ammunition — and thank goodness for that.

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4:10pm

Tue June 9, 2015
It's All Politics

Advocates Push To Bring Solitary Confinement Out Of The Shadows

Originally published on Thu June 11, 2015 9:53 am

A guard looks over an empty inmate cell at the Northern Correctional Institution in Somers, Conn., in 2001.
Steve Miller AP

By last count, the Justice Department estimates about 80,000 U.S. inmates live in some kind of restricted housing.

That means being confined to a cell for about 22 hours a day.

"You are going to eat, sleep and defecate in a small room that's actually smaller than the size of your average parking space," said Amy Fettig, a lawyer who runs the Stop Solitary campaign for the American Civil Liberties Union. "And you're going to do that for months, years and sometimes even decades on end."

Fettig said solitary confinement is brutal and expensive.

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2:59pm

Sat June 6, 2015
U.S.

Jury Acquits Ex-BP Exec Of Lying In Oil Spill

Originally published on Mon June 8, 2015 10:57 am

David Rainey, second from right, leaves Federal Court after being arraigned on obstruction of a federal investigation in New Orleans in 2012. Rainey was acquitted Friday.
Matthew Hinton AP

More than two years ago, Justice Department officials held a news conference to unveil criminal charges against BP and several executives in connection with the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

But the Department of Justice task force created to hold the company and responsible individuals to account has a track record that's spotty at best.

On Friday, a federal jury in New Orleans acquitted the highest-ranking BP executive charged in connection with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, after just five days of trial.

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