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.

Pages

National Security
10:01 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Bradley Manning To Appear In Court In Leaks Case

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 1:23 pm

Supporters say Army Pfc. Bradley Manning doesn't belong in a courtroom at all. They think he's a whistle-blower — and a hero.

Eighteen months after his arrest on suspicion of leaking national secrets, Manning will finally make his first appearance in court Friday at Fort Meade, Md., just north of Washington, D.C.

When he worked in Iraq, Manning allegedly downloaded thousands of war logs and diplomatic cables and shared them with the website WikiLeaks. He faces 22 criminal charges that could keep him behind bars for life.

Read more
Around the Nation
8:32 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Probe Finds Arizona Sheriff Violated Civil Rights

America's toughest sheriff. " href="/post/probe-finds-arizona-sheriff-violated-civil-rights" class="noexit lightbox">
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has forced inmates to wear pink and live in tent cities, gaining him a reputation as America's toughest sheriff.
Joshua Lott Getty Images

Sheriff Joe Arpaio has a national reputation for being tough on crime but now the Arizona law man is in the spotlight for a different reason.

On Thursday, the Department of Justice released the results of a three-year investigation in which authorities conclude that Arpaio and his deputies are the ones who've been breaking law.

Read more
Law
1:15 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

Immigration Detainees Seek Prison-Rape Protection

Human rights advocates are calling on the Obama administration to do more to protect people in immigration detention centers from sexual assault. A new federal rule that will take effect next year covers inmates in jails and prisons, but some Homeland Security officials want an exemption for facilities that house illegal immigrants.

Read more
U.S.
12:42 pm
Thu December 8, 2011

Fast And Furious Questions For U.S. Attorney General

Attorney General Eric Holder testifies before the House Judiciary Committee. He faces tough questions about the Justice Department's "Fast and Furious" gun-control program.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 8, 2011 8:08 pm

Attorney General Eric Holder got a bruising reception from the Republican-dominated House Judiciary Committee that put the Justice Department on the defensive.

Holder answered questions about the botched gun trafficking operation known as "Fast and Furious" in which federal agents tried to build cases against drug cartels. Instead, they lost track of hundreds of weapons that turned up at crime scenes along the Southwest border.

Read more
The Two-Way
12:22 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Senator Calls For Justice's Criminal Division Chief To Step Down

Iowa Republican Charles Grassley took to the Senate floor Wednesday to declare that a senior Justice Department official "needs to go immediately" for allegedly misleading Congress in its 11-month-old investigation of a gun trafficking operation gone bad.

"It's past time for accountability at the senior levels of the Justice Department," Grassley said. "That accountability needs to start with the head of the criminal division, Lanny Breuer."

In a 15-minute speech, Grassley set out two main reasons for demanding Breuer's ouster.

Read more
The Two-Way
4:14 pm
Fri December 2, 2011

Justice Withdraws Inaccurate 'Fast And Furious' Letter It Sent To Congress

Under fire for losing track of weapons that turned up at crime scenes along the Southwest border, the Justice Department has taken the extraordinary step of formally withdrawing an inaccurate letter about the episode that it sent to Congress earlier this year.

Read more
National Security
2:00 am
Fri December 2, 2011

Defense Bill Requires Military To Hold Terror Suspects

The Senate has passed a defense policy bill that includes controversial provisions requiring terrorism suspects be held in military rather than civilian custody. President Obama has threatened a veto.

U.S.
10:01 pm
Wed November 30, 2011

States Fail In Fight Against Sex Trafficking

A placard of a child sits on a table during a conference Oct. 31 on human sex trafficking in Atlanta. The Georgia Department of Education estimates that about 5,000 girls in the state are at risk for trafficking each year.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Thu December 1, 2011 3:10 am

Too many states still inadvertently provide safe havens when it comes to sex trafficking — even when children on the streets bear the consequences. That's the conclusion of a new report released Thursday by the advocacy group Shared Hope International.

The study grades each state on whether it has laws to protect children who are pushed into the sex trade — and to punish the adults who seek out those services. Leaders of the group say there's lots of room for improvement. More than half of the states they examined got grades of D or F.

Read more
NPR Story
1:00 pm
Wed November 30, 2011

John Hinckley Faces Hearing

A hearing opens Wednesday for John Hinckley, who attempted to assassinate President Reagan 30 years ago and was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He was sent to a mental institution but is now seeking more privileges that could lead to his living full-time outside the hospital.

The Two-Way
11:13 am
Wed November 30, 2011

Prosecutors Say John Hinckley Is Still A Threat

Originally published on Wed November 30, 2011 11:15 am

The Justice Department says the man who shot and wounded President Ronald Reagan in 1981 still poses a threat to public safety.

Prosecutors are fighting an effort by John Hinckley to win more freedom from a mental hospital where he's been confined for decades.

During a hearing in Washington, the prosecutors said the government has been watching Hinckley.

Secret Service agents followed Hinckley last summer, when he said he was going to the movies during visits to his mother's home in Williamsburg, Va.

Read more
Law
10:01 pm
Tue November 29, 2011

Hearing May Lead To More Freedom For Hinckley

John Hinckley Jr. is escorted by police in Washington, D.C., on March 30, 1981, following his arrest after shooting and seriously wounding then-President Ronald Reagan.
AFP/Getty Images

More than 30 years ago, on March 30, 1981, John Hinckley shot President Reagan and three other people outside a Washington hotel. A jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity, and authorities sent him to a mental institution.

Read more
Law
3:32 am
Sun November 27, 2011

Beyond Fighting Crime, FBI Reaches Out To Victims

Students sit at the Virginia Tech campus on April 18, 2007, two days after a student killed 32 people and himself. FBI victim specialists span out to help in the wake of crimes like the Virginia Tech massacre.
Mary Altaffer AP

Originally published on Sun November 27, 2011 3:57 pm

When FBI agents arrive at the scene of a shooting or a terrorist attack, there's often someone else standing in the background. It's a representative from the FBI's Office for Victim Assistance, there to help people suffering in the aftermath of a disaster.

The planning for those unfortunate days starts here, in a windowless conference room in the J. Edgar Hoover FBI building, where seven serious-looking people are sitting around a table.

Read more
Law
6:09 pm
Tue November 22, 2011

Government Whistle-Blowers Gain New Advocate

Carolyn Lerner is the new head of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.
Peter Krogh Courtesy of U.S. Office of Special Counsel

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is one of those small corners of the government with an important mission: It's supposed to help protect federal whistle-blowers and shield civil service workers from politics.

But during the Bush years, the office was engulfed in scandal. It was raided by FBI agents, and its chief was indicted for obstructing justice.

It's into that unsettled environment that the new leader, Carolyn Lerner, arrived five months ago. And good government groups say she's already taking the office in new directions.

Read more
The Two-Way
10:00 am
Mon November 21, 2011

No Criminal Charges Against Justice Dept. Lawyers Who Prosecuted Stevens

Originally published on Tue November 22, 2011 10:59 am

The Justice Department lawyers who prosecuted Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) will not face criminal contempt charges for failing to share evidence that could have helped his defense team, a federal judge said Monday.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan and the special prosecutor he appointed, Washington lawyer Henry Schuelke, had tough words for the Justice Department, though.

Read more
Law
12:01 pm
Tue October 18, 2011

Businesses Push Back On Foreign Bribery Law

One of the federal government's few success stories when it comes to policing corporate crime in recent years comes from a post-Watergate law called the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA.

Prosecutors have used the law to get more than $1 billion in bribery fines out of huge companies like Siemens and DaimlerChrysler.

But now the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pushing back: It has hired former Justice Department leaders to make the case that the law is out of date.

Critics: Law Has Huge Consequences

Read more
The Two-Way
7:04 am
Tue October 18, 2011

Justice Dept. Lawyer Exonerated, Back With Public Integrity Section

A Justice Department lawyer has returned to the unit that prosecutes sensitive public corruption cases after being transferred more than two years ago in the aftermath of the botched case against the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).

Read more
Law
1:01 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

Holder Takes Heat Over 'Fast And Furious' Scandal

Old hands in Washington know it's never a good sign when the president of the United States has to make a statement like this one.

"I have complete confidence in Attorney General Holder, in how he handles his office," President Obama told reporters at a news conference Thursday. "He has been very aggressive in going after gun running and cash transactions that are going to these transnational drug cartels."

Read more
National Security
2:51 pm
Fri September 30, 2011

Debate Erupts Over Legality Of Al-Awlaki's Killing

Within moments of Anwar al-Awlaki's death, debate erupted over whether the U.S. had a legal basis to target one of its own citizens with deadly force.

Last year, President Obama put al-Awlaki on a secret list that gave the intelligence community a green light to target him in a deadly drone attack.

The move bothered human rights advocates so much that they sued, enlisting al-Awlaki's father as a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Read more
Law
2:55 am
Thu September 29, 2011

'Underwear Bomber' Set To Act As His Own Lawyer

An undated photo of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab posing in London.
Mike Rimmer AFP/Getty Images

When prospective jurors file into a Detroit courthouse next week for the start of a major terrorism trial, all eyes will be on the defendant, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The young man from Nigeria may be best known for allegedly trying to detonate explosives hidden in his underwear on a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day 2009. Lately, his decision to fire his lawyers and defend himself is putting him back in the spotlight all over again.

Read more
The Two-Way
2:21 pm
Mon September 19, 2011

Justices Department Expresses Concern Over Texas Redistricting Plan

The United States Justice Department expressed concern Monday about whether new Texas redistricting plans for four U.S. House seats comply with the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which protects the interests of minority voters.

In a filing with a special three-judge court panel in Washington D.C., civil rights lawyers at Justice wrote that they doubted new boundaries for the House seats "maintain or increase the ability of minority voters to elect their candidate of choice."

Read more
Law
10:01 pm
Sun September 18, 2011

Could Texas' Redistricting Leave Latinos Behind?

The Texas State Capitol is seen late Jan. 18, in Austin.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Mon September 19, 2011 3:25 am

Political experts are keeping a close eye on Texas because it will pick up four new seats in the U.S. House of Representatives next year, thanks to a soaring Latino population. But civil rights groups and the U.S. Justice Department are signaling they may have some concerns about the redistricting process in Texas and whether it could put Latino voters at a disadvantage.

Read more
The Two-Way
9:05 am
Tue September 13, 2011

Report: Marshals Service Needs To Improve Its Handling Of Felons' Assets

Federal watchdogs say the U.S. Marshals Service needs to do a better job of valuing and selling assets tied to fraudsters and organized crime figures.

The Justice Department's inspector general has found poor oversight and problems with record keeping that could be costing taxpayers money.

The Marshals Service has managed investments, homes and jewelry tied to many prominent criminals over the past five years. The prominent felons include Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff and organized crime figure James Galante.

Read more
Law
1:03 pm
Wed September 7, 2011

New ATF Chief Inherits Agency Fighting For Survival

B. Todd Jones, the top federal prosecutor in Minnesota, speaks during a press conference with Attorney General Eric Holder last year. Jones has been tapped as acting chief of the troubled Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Brendan Smialowski Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 7, 2011 5:27 pm

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is fighting for its life. The agency is under pressure from Republicans in Congress after a botched gun-trafficking operation known as "Fast and Furious," and the scandal has already cost the ATF leader and a top prosecutor their jobs.

Now, the Obama administration is counting on a new leader, B. Todd Jones, to try to get the agency back on track. Jones spent years as a U.S. Marine, and he's got the direct approach to prove it.

Read more
Law
10:01 pm
Wed August 31, 2011

Obama Takes Tougher Stance On Abortion Protesters

The Obama Justice Department has been taking a more aggressive approach against people who block access to abortion clinics, using a 1994 law to bring cases in greater numbers than its predecessor.

Read more
The Two-Way
10:36 am
Tue August 30, 2011

Under Scrutiny For 'Fast And Furious,' ATF Announces New Leader

Justice Department officials announced Tuesday that the troubled Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has a new leader. Officials handpicked Minnesota's top federal prosecutor, B. Todd Jones, to serve as the bureau's acting director.

Read more
Law
10:01 pm
Mon August 29, 2011

Immigrant Witness Says U.S. Reneged On Protection

Former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, shown here in 2010, is one former Justice Department official supporting the case of an Albanian witness asking for government protection.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Ten years ago, an Albanian immigrant agreed to help the Justice Department build a case against a mobster accused of human smuggling. In exchange, he says, federal prosecutors promised him a green card and protection for his family. But the mobster fled the country and the informant, Ed Demiraj, says the U.S. government reneged on its commitment — with violent results.

Read more
Business
2:23 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

SEC Documents Destroyed, Employee Tells Congress

A staff member at the Securities and Exchange Commission has complained to Congress that thousands of investigative documents have been destroyed by the agency.

Longtime SEC staffer Darcy Flynn says some of those missing papers relate to huge investment banks under the spotlight for their role in the 2008 mortgage crisis.

Read more
National Security
10:01 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Alleged Arms Dealer's Past Debated Before Trial

A Russian businessman accused of being one of the world's most notorious arms dealers is due in a federal court in New York on Wednesday for an important pretrial hearing.

Law enforcement authorities have been chasing Viktor Bout for decades, tracking how he went from a little-known Soviet military officer in the 1980s to a multimillionaire who allegedly provided assault weapons to brutal regimes in Angola and the Congo in the late 1990s.

Read more
Law
10:01 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

Cell Service Shutdown Raises Free Speech Questions

The shutdown of mobile phone service in Bay Area subway stations has got constitutional experts hitting the law books.

Authorities for Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART, blocked wireless signals in certain stations on August 11 in an attempt to prevent protests opposing the July 3 shooting death of Charles Blair Hill by BART police. Police say Hill came at them with a knife.

Read more
Law
9:09 am
Fri August 12, 2011

The Quiet Revolution In The Death Penalty Debate

A shortage of a key drug for lethal injections has slowed the pace of executions.
Nate Jenkins AP

There are 58 people on federal death row in Terre Haute, Ind. But for now none appears likely to face the ultimate punishment, at least not on President Obama's watch.

The Justice Department is reviewing its lethal injection protocols because of a shortage of a key drug. While that study is underway, authorities have backed away from setting execution dates.

Over the last few years, a quiet revolution has overtaken the death penalty debate. Like many trends, this one started in the states and moved to the federal level, says death penalty expert David Bruck.

Read more

Pages