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
4:10 pm
Tue June 9, 2015

Advocates Push To Bring Solitary Confinement Out Of The Shadows

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

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

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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U.S.
2:59 pm
Sat June 6, 2015

Jury Acquits Ex-BP Exec Of Lying In Oil Spill

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

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

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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The Two-Way
10:00 am
Wed June 3, 2015

Sen. Menendez's Corruption Trial Hasn't Begun, But Legal Sparring Has

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., (right) speaks alongside his lawyer, Abbe Lowell, after being indicted on corruption charges in April.
Kena Betancur Getty Images

It's been just two months since the Justice Department indicted Sen. Robert Menendez on bribery and conspiracy charges. But lawyers in the case already seem to be, well, getting under each other's skin.

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It's All Politics
5:32 pm
Mon June 1, 2015

Supreme Court Sides With Immigrant Caught With Pills In His Sock

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote for the court majority, said Moones Mellouli's crime should not be considered enough to remove someone from the country under federal law. In dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote he sees "nothing absurd about removing individuals who are unwilling to respect the drug laws" where they live.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon June 1, 2015 10:46 pm

The Supreme Court has dealt a blow to U.S. immigration officials in a closely watched case by ruling that a broad state anti-drug law may not be enough to justify deportation.

By a 7-2 vote, the court ruled that a Tunisian man convicted of carrying pills in his sock should not have been removed from the U.S. for that reason.

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Law
3:37 am
Mon June 1, 2015

No. 2 At Justice Warns Growing Prison Budget Detracts From Public Safety

Deputy Attorney General nominee Sally Yates testified in March before the Senate Judiciary Committee on her nomination. The Senate confirmed her last month to be deputy attorney general, putting two women in the top posts at the Justice Department.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Mon June 1, 2015 3:49 pm

Prosecutors usually spend their energy putting criminals behind bars, not urging their release. But racial disparities in the system and the huge costs of locking up so many people are pushing some government officials to call for a new approach.

One of them is the woman who now runs day-to-day operations at the Justice Department. Sally Yates says she's hardly soft on crime: "I'm a career prosecutor."

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It's All Politics
5:07 am
Wed May 13, 2015

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

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

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

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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It's All Politics
1:56 pm
Tue May 12, 2015

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

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

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

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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It's All Politics
4:34 pm
Fri May 8, 2015

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

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

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

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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The Two-Way
5:15 pm
Thu May 7, 2015

FBI Says It Sent Bulletin On Texas Assailant Hours Before Attack

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

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

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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It's All Politics
4:29 pm
Thu May 7, 2015

New Public-Corruption Chief Vows To Not Shy Away

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

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

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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