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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The Two-Way
12:09 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 12:32 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 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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The Two-Way
11:30 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Case Against Benghazi Suspect Is Complex, Justice Department Says

Ahmed Abu Khattala, an alleged leader of the deadly 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
AP

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 12:01 pm

The Justice Department says its case against a man accused in the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, is unusually complex and involves "novel questions of fact and law."

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Law
2:20 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

Prison Rape Law A Decade Old, But Most States Not In Compliance

Texas Gov. Rick Perry says following federal standards for the Prison Rape Elimination Act is too burdensome for states.
Tom Pennington MCT/Landov

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 4:29 pm

The clock is ticking on a decade-long effort to prevent sexual violence inside American prisons. In a recent survey, the vast majority of states said they will try to comply with federal rules. But several others, led by Texas, have protested to the Justice Department.

Jan Lastocy served 15 months in a Michigan prison for attempted embezzlement — her first brush with the law. The assaults began when a new corrections officer showed up at the warehouse where she had been assigned to work as a secretary.

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The Two-Way
2:15 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

New DOJ Policy Urges Agents To Videotape Interrogations

Department of Justice

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 3:49 pm

Senior Justice Department officials have quietly notified U.S. attorneys and federal agents that they're establishing "a presumption" that agents will electronically record statements made by individuals in their custody.

In a memo obtained by NPR, Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole strongly encourages agents to videotape suspects in custody before they appear in front of a judge or magistrate on federal charges. The memo says FBI special agents in charge of field offices or U.S. attorneys can override the policy if they have good cause to set it aside.

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The Two-Way
11:01 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Karl R. Thompson Tapped To Lead Key Justice Department Unit

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 8:53 am

Karl R. Thompson has been named to lead the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, an under-the-radar but critically important unit that approves executive branch legal arguments on armed drones, surveillance and other national security issues.

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The Two-Way
2:40 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Prosecutor David O'Neil To Head Justice's Criminal Division

David O'Neil.
Justice Department

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 1:29 pm

Longtime prosecutor David O'Neil will become the acting head of the criminal division at the Justice Department, a position that puts him in charge of a vast portfolio ranging from financial fraud investigations to public corruption and kleptocracy among foreign leaders.

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The Two-Way
8:02 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Senators Want Watchdog To Investigate Federal Prosecutorial Misconduct

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 2:25 pm

A new report from the Project on Government Oversight documents 650 ethics infractions including recklessness and misconduct by Justice Department lawyers over the past decade or so.

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Politics
9:39 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Holder Speaks Out On Snowden, Drone Policy, Softening Sentences

Already one of the longest-serving attorneys general in history, Eric Holder says he has no immediate plans or timetable to leave. Here, he speaks at the annual Attorneys General Winter Meeting in Washington on Feb. 25.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 9:13 am

Virtually any time a major event ripples across Washington, the Justice Department is positioned near the center of it.

From the disappearance of a Malaysian airliner that carried three Americans on board to the fate of voting rights for millions of people, the attorney general has an enormous portfolio. And the stress to match it.

But after an elevated heart rate sent him to the hospital last month, Eric Holder says he's on the mend.

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It's All Politics
2:29 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Senate Democrats Defect On Obama Civil Rights Nominee

Debo Adegbile, special counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, speaks with the media outside the Supreme Court in Feb. 2013 after presenting arguments in the Shelby County, Ala., v. Holder voting rights case.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Wed March 5, 2014 5:42 pm

In a stinging blow to the Obama administration, seven Senate Democrats joined with Republicans Wednesday to block one of the president's key civil rights nominees.

The 47 to 52 vote marked the first defeat of a Democratic nominee since lawmakers changed Senate rules to make it easier to push through judges and executive branch candidates. And it came after a clash that pit powerful law enforcement interests against the civil rights community.

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The Two-Way
9:58 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Solitary Confinement Costs $78K Per Inmate And Should Be Curbed, Critics Say

The U.S. holds more prisoners in solitary confinement than any other democratic country, according to critics of the treatment. Here, an immigrant detainee makes a call from his "segregation cell" at a detention facility in Adelanto, Calif., last November.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 4:43 am

Former prisoners spoke about the effects of solitary confinement Tuesday, in a congressional hearing aimed at banning the treatment for some inmates. The federal push to reduce solitary confinement is being led by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who calls it "a human rights issue we can't ignore."

Inmates who are held in solitary confinement spend 23 hours a day in small windowless cells, receiving their food on trays that are pushed through a slot in the cell's door.

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Politics
1:53 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Top Justice Dept. Official Quietly Stepped Down In December

J. David Ake AP

Originally published on Mon February 24, 2014 12:37 pm

The leader of an influential Justice Department office that offers legal advice on surveillance, drones and other issues at the center of security and executive power quietly left government before Christmas.

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The Two-Way
4:40 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Justice Dept. Asks For Help Finding Prisoners Who Deserve Clemency

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 4:39 pm

The second-in-command at the Justice Department met Tuesday with defense lawyers and interest groups to identify the cases of worthy prisoners who could qualify for clemency.

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It's All Politics
9:41 am
Tue February 11, 2014

Holder Calls For Restoring Felons' Voting Rights

Eric Holder, attorney general of the United States, speaks at a Feb. 7 reception for baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron in Washington.
Nick Wass AP

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 7:31 am

Attorney General Eric Holder called on 11 states to repeal "counterproductive" laws that bar convicted felons from "the single most basic right of American citizenship-the right to vote."

In a speech Tuesday at Georgetown University law school, Holder used his bully pulpit to note that 5.8 million people are prohibited from voting because of current or former felony convictions, including 1-in-5 black adults in Florida, Kentucky and Virginia.

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The Two-Way
1:49 pm
Sat February 8, 2014

Holder Orders Equal Treatment For Married Same-Sex Couples

John Lewis (left) and Stuart Gaffney embrace outside San Francisco's City Hall shortly before the U.S. Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California in June.
Noah Berger AP

Originally published on Sat February 8, 2014 11:04 am

Attorney General Eric Holder has for the first time directed Justice Department employees to give same-sex married couples "full and equal recognition, to the greatest extent under the law," a move with far-ranging consequences for how such couples are treated in federal courtrooms and proceedings.

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The Two-Way
11:10 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Post-9/11 Panel Criticizes NSA Phone Data Collection

Originally published on Thu January 23, 2014 3:21 am

An independent panel created after the 9/11 attacks says bulk collection of billions of American phone records violates the letter and the spirit of the law.

The new report from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board undercuts the foundation of the National Security Agency's long-running phone metadata program, and suggests it conflicts with plain language in the Patriot Act and other laws on the books.

NPR obtained a copy of the report, which will be discussed and voted on Thursday at an open board meeting.

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