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

The Two-Way
6:08 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

FBI Agents Support Bipartisan Spending Deal

James Comey in the White House Rose Garden as President Obama nominates him for the top FBI post on June 21.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 7:04 pm

FBI agents across the country have been among the most vocal opponents of the spending cuts triggered by sequestration, warning about everything from having to abandon surveillance work to a lack of gas money.

Read more
NPR Story
6:17 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

Wash. Judge Rules Towns Failed Poor Defendents

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 11:57 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Read more
The Two-Way
12:03 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Report: Threat Of Mandatory Minimums Used To Coerce Guilty Pleas

In August, Attorney General Eric Holder told federal prosecutors to no longer hit low-level drug offenders with charges that carry mandatory minimum sentences. But it's not yet clear how broadly that directive is being interpreted.
Stephen Lam Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 9:44 am

A new report says the Justice Department regularly coerces defendants in federal drug cases to plead guilty by threatening them with steep prison sentences or stacking charges to increase their time behind bars.

And for the first time, the study by Human Rights Watch finds that defendants who take their fate to a judge or jury face prison sentences on average 11 years longer than those who plead guilty.

Read more
Politics
6:34 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Obama Offers Second Chance For Missouri Court Nominee

Ronnie White, then-chief justice-elect of the Missouri Supreme Court, talks with reporters in June 2003.
Kelley McCall AP

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 6:50 pm

President Obama has made it a priority to choose federal judges who are diverse in terms of race or gender. But for the most part, he's avoided controversy for those lifetime appointments.

That's why the nomination of a Missouri lawyer named Ronnie White has raised the eyebrows of experts who've been around Washington for a while. Old hands remember that White was rejected for a federal judgeship back in 1999 after a party line vote by Senate Republicans.

Now, in what experts say could be an unprecedented step, he's getting another chance.

Read more
National Security
5:13 am
Tue December 3, 2013

Why FISA Court Judges Rule The Way They Do

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 6:02 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

OK. So federal judges, in secret, have blasted the National Security Agency for years, for violating rules governing U.S. surveillance programs. Then the judges have gone ahead and approved those programs anyway. We know this because of leaks by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and from documents released by the government. They have revealed new information about how the secret court works. NPR's Carrie Johnson has this report on whether it is possible for the court to control the NSA.

Read more
Politics
4:45 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

ATF Chief Faces Tough Challenge At Troubled Agency

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Director B. Todd Jones speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Aug. 29.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 6:54 pm

For the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, nothing seems to come easy.

The agency runs at a fraction of the size of its much larger law enforcement counterparts. Under pressure from gun rights groups, it operated without a Senate-confirmed leader for seven years. And its new leader, B. Todd Jones, only narrowly averted a congressional roadblock to win confirmation this summer after serving more than two years as an interim leader.

Read more
All Tech Considered
3:06 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Plastic Guns Made With 3-D Printers Pose New Security Concerns

An all-plastic gun fires a bullet in this screenshot from a video made by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
ATF

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 12:30 pm

Technology helps police solve crimes every day. But some innovations can also present new public safety concerns — and such is the case with guns built using 3-D printers.

Read more
NPR Story
5:03 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Families Of Drone Strike Victims Tell Their Stories

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 5:24 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

A family from a village in Pakistan traveled all the way to Capitol Hill this week to tell lawmakers the story of how they lost their grandmother in a deadly attack. She was killed by a U.S. drone strike one year ago. Speaking through an interpreter, her grandchildren's testimony, along with that of her son, marked the first time civilians victimized by drone strikes appeared at a congressional briefing.

Read more
National Security
4:54 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

NGOs Call U.S. Drone Program Illegal In Damning Reports

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 12:28 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Today, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International released a report documenting the aftermath of drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen. A 68-year-old grandmother killed in a farm field in front of her family. Laborers killed after they had gathered in a tent to get out of the summer sun after a long day's work. The human rights groups are calling for more transparency from the Obama administration about America's drone program. NPR's Carrie Johnson reports.

Read more
Law
3:15 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Getting Federal Benefits To Gay Couples: It's Complicated

A gay rights activist waves a rainbow flag in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in June, a day before the ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 9:54 am

It has been four months since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a law that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. The ruling paved the way for thousands of same-sex married couples to receive federal benefits, and a special group of government lawyers has been working to make that happen.

Read more
The Two-Way
5:51 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

U.S. Will Disclose Use Of Secret Wiretaps To A Defendant

Originally published on Thu October 17, 2013 7:29 pm

The Justice Department is wrestling with how to disclose to criminal defendants that some evidence against them may have come from a secret electronic surveillance program.

A senior government official told NPR that prosecutors have identified a criminal case in which they will soon tell defense lawyers that they used secret intercepts to help build the prosecution.

The decision to share the fruits of electronic monitoring under section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act has been the source of an internal debate within the department for weeks.

Read more
National Security
4:37 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Has Elite Interrogation Group Lived Up To Expectations?

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 5:58 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

Read more
National Security
4:21 am
Fri October 11, 2013

Snowden's Leaks Lead To More Disclosure From Feds

Originally published on Fri October 11, 2013 11:02 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has been exposing the most profound secrets of America's surveillance system, and the Obama administration's response to that? Declassifying lots of other material. The NSA has been under orders to do that from the White House, yet many lawmakers are demanding even more, which raises the question: when do we know enough? NPR's Carrie Johnson reports.

Read more
Law
4:20 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

Raids In Somalia, Libya Spur Legal Questions

Originally published on Mon October 7, 2013 6:50 pm

Daring weekend raids by U.S. armed forces to capture suspected terrorists in Somalia and Libya are generating a hearty debate among national security lawyers who are raising questions about what authority U.S. forces have to enter foreign soil and how long the al-Qaida operative who was captured can be held without trial.

The Two-Way
6:14 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Legal Advocates Want Overhaul Of Public Defender System

Former Vice President Walter Mondale speaks at a Georgetown University Law Center discussion last week. He is one of several prominent individuals calling for better legal representation for the poor.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 3, 2013 9:55 am

Prominent members of the legal community are pressuring the Obama administration to do more to ensure that poor criminal defendants have access to a lawyer, a situation that Attorney General Eric Holder has already likened to a national crisis.

Read more
The Two-Way
12:03 am
Mon September 30, 2013

Justice Department Sues North Carolina Over Voter ID Law

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 5:16 pm

(This post was updated at 5 p.m.)

The Justice Department is suing North Carolina over that state's restrictive new voting law. The lawsuit takes aim at provisions that limit early voting periods and require a government photo ID as an illegal form of discrimination against minorities at the ballot box.

Read more
The Two-Way
12:01 am
Thu September 26, 2013

Justice Department Pushes New Thinking On Kids And Crime

The Justice Department, along with the Department of Education, is trying to stop what experts describe as a "school-to-prison pipeline."
J. David Ake AP

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 10:45 am

For a man who spent the bulk of his career as a public defender, Robert Listenbee's new role walking around the halls of the U.S. Justice Department may not be the most comfortable fit.

But Listenbee, who became administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention earlier this year, says his transition has been smooth. And besides, he says, he couldn't resist the "extraordinary opportunity."

Read more
Africa
4:37 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

Al-Shabab, Once Thought Weakened, Is Still A Threat

Originally published on Mon September 23, 2013 8:38 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

We're going to hear more now about the group behind the deadly attack on a shopping mall in Kenya this weekend. The militant group al-Shabab emerged as a dangerous terrorist organization seven years ago in Somalia. But it has suffered major setbacks there in the past few years. And now, with a single devastating attack across the border in Nairobi, the group is trying to demonstrate that it's still relevant. NPR's Carrie Johnson reports.

Read more
The Two-Way
2:52 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

FBI Chief: Gunman Was 'Wandering Around Looking For People To Shoot'

FBI Director James Comey is pictured earlier this month during his swearing-in ceremony at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 8:11 am

New FBI Director Jim Comey said the man who went on a rampage at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday was "wandering around looking for people to shoot" and had no apparent rhyme or reason for killing 12 people.

In his first remarks to reporters since taking office this month, Comey said the gunman, Aaron Alexis, ran out of ammunition for his legally purchased, sawed-off shotgun, exhausting a supply in his cargo pants pocket, and then began using a Beretta wrestled from a guard he had shot.

Read more
Law
5:08 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Push To End Mandatory Minimums Makes Strange Bedfellows

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 8:01 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

On Capitol Hill today, a rare acknowledgement from lawmakers that they are partly to blame for the country's crowded prisons. Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, opened a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this way.

SENATOR PATRICK LEAHY: We must reevaluate how many people we send to prison and for how long.

SIEGEL: Leahy wants to dial back the long prison sentences that Congress approved during the war on drugs and he's got some surprising allies.

Read more

Pages