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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4:03am

Mon January 19, 2015
Environment

New Justice Department Environment Chief Takes Helm Of Gulf Spill Case

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 7:37 am

Cruden ranks the Gulf oil spill as one of the most significant environmental disasters of our time. It "deserves ... all of our energy to make sure nothing like this ever happens again," he says.
Gerald Herbert AP

John Cruden served with U.S. Special Forces in Vietnam, taking his law school aptitude test in Saigon and eventually becoming a government lawyer.

Earlier this month, he started a new job running the environment and natural resources division at the Justice Department. For Cruden, 68, the new role means coming home to a place where he worked as a career lawyer for about 20 years.

Cruden has been around long enough to have supervised the Exxon Valdeez spill case, a record-setter. That is, until the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

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5:05am

Wed January 14, 2015
Governing

Tough Attorney General Pick Loretta Lynch Vies For Senate Confirmation

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 7:27 pm

"They expect a certain amount of leniency or mercy from me, because I'm a woman, and if you've ever met my mother you should know that's not even in the cards," Lynch said in 2012. "She's much tougher than I am."
J. Scott Applewhite AP

President Obama's choice to be the next attorney general grew up in a state where her parents fought for the right to vote.

Loretta Lynch is a North Carolina native who hails from a long line of preachers. Her academic talent propelled her into some of the country's elite institutions.

Now Lynch is trying to win Senate confirmation as the top U.S. law enforcement officer, as the first black woman in line to hold that job.

Lynch was born 55 years ago, in Greensboro, N.C., where sit-ins and protests provided a soundtrack to her youth.

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4:36pm

Fri January 9, 2015
Law

First Amendment Arguments Overshadow Sterling Espionage Case

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 4:21 pm

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

Transcript

ROBET SIEGEL, HOST:

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5:00am

Tue January 6, 2015
Law

Senate Slow To Schedule Hearings For Attorney General Nominee

Originally published on Thu January 8, 2015 3:28 pm

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

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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6:03pm

Mon January 5, 2015
All Tech Considered

Prosecutors Say Tools For Hiding Online Hinder Cybercrime Crackdowns

Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 1:30 pm

Using Tor, or The Onion Router, enables users to hide their online activities. Advocates say the network protects the privacy of activists. But prosecutors say it's used extensively by criminals — and is making it harder for law enforcement to do its job.
Daniel Acker Bloomberg via Getty Images

Prosecutors say tools that cloak online identities are complicating their efforts to police all kinds of crime.

Take the case of a former head of cybersecurity for the Department of Health and Human Services, Timothy DeFoggi. Prosecutors say they found graphic images of children on a laptop computer in his home.

DeFoggi once led cybersecurity efforts for HHS, but in this case, the Justice Department says, he used his expertise to hide from the law, along with other users of child porn sites, on a network called Tor.

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12:25pm

Fri January 2, 2015
The Two-Way

Deputy Attorney General Reflects On Controversies, Successes

Originally published on Fri January 2, 2015 6:23 pm

Deputy Attorney General James Cole
J. Scott Applewhite AP

It has been called one of the hardest jobs in the U.S. government.

The deputy attorney general is second in command at the Justice Department, responsible for sensitive prosecutions and monitoring threats from al-Qaida and the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

James Cole, who has had the job for four years — longer than anyone since the 1950s — is leaving soon. He sat down this week to reflect on his tenure.

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3:57pm

Fri December 19, 2014
Boxed In

Sentenced For Life, Inmate Still Holds Hope For Release

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 8:29 pm

David Padilla with his grandchildren. Seventeen years ago, a judge found Padilla guilty of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
Courtesy of the Padilla Family

Thousands of people sentenced under the tough drug laws of the 1980s and '90s are still behind bars, serving mandatory minimum prison sentences requiring them to spend decades, if not life, in prison. Nowadays people convicted of the same crimes serve far less time.

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4:04pm

Tue December 16, 2014
Law

After 17 Years Behind Bars, Coming Home To A Different Life

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 4:45 pm

Stephanie George (right) with her daughter, Kendra, and son Courtney. They were 5 and 8 when she went to prison on a drug charge. Last December, President Obama commuted her sentence.
Marisa Peñaloza NPR

When she went to prison on drug charges, Stephanie George was 26 years old, a mother to three young kids.

Over 17 years behind bars, her grandparents died. Her father died. But the worst came just months before her release.

"I lost my baby son," George says, referring to Will, shot dead on a Pensacola, Fla., street.

"I feel bad because I'm not coming home to all of them, you know," sobs George, now 44. "He was 4 when I left, but I miss him."

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4:39am

Tue December 16, 2014
Law

Judge Regrets Harsh Human Toll Of Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 3:08 pm

The shocking death of basketball player Len Bias from a cocaine overdose in 1986 led Congress to pass tough mandatory sentences for drug crimes.
AP

It seems long ago now, but in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, murders and robberies exploded as cocaine and other illegal drugs ravaged American cities.

Then came June 19, 1986, when the overdose of a college athlete sent the nation into shock just days after the NBA draft. Basketball star Len Bias could have been anybody's brother or son.

Congress swiftly responded by passing tough mandatory sentences for drug crimes. Those sentences, still in place, pack federal prisons to this day. More than half of the 219,000 federal prisoners are serving time for drug offenses.

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4:10am

Tue December 16, 2014
Law

From Judges To Inmates, Finding The Human Casualties Of Mandatory Sentencing

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 2:34 pm

NPR's series looks at the human toll of mandatory minimum prison sentences. The White House and the Justice Department have taken the unprecedented step of asking for candidates who might win early release from prison through presidential pardons or commutations in the final years of the Obama presidency.
Dan Henson iStockphoto

The United States spends nearly $7 billion a year to operate a network of federal prisons that house more than 200,000 inmates. About half of them are incarcerated for drug crimes, a legacy of 1980s laws that prosecutors use to target not only kingpins but also low-level couriers and girlfriends. Multiple convictions for small-time offenses under those laws mean thousands of people are locked up for decades, or even the rest of their lives.

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