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.

The Justice Department says it will beef up legal requirements for using cell-site simulators, an increasingly controversial form of surveillance technology that secretly gathers data about mobile devices.

Under the new policy, federal investigators will be required to get a warrant from a judge demonstrating probable cause, in most domestic criminal probes. Agents will need to explain to judges how the technology is being used. And they'll be directed to destroy volumes of bystanders' data "no less than once daily."

A former aide to Hillary Clinton said he will invoke his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and not answer questions from Congress.

The aide, Bryan Pagliano, helped set up Clinton's private email server. Clinton has faced months of scrutiny for using her home server and a private email address to conduct State Department business.

The Select Committee on Benghazi had asked Pagliano, a former State Department employee, to field questions next week. His lawyer has declined, sending a letter to Congress citing the negative political environment.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has strongly condemned shootings of law enforcement officers in Texas and Illinois and issued an unequivocal message of support for police.

"We have had four more guardians slain, and frankly our hearts are broken," the attorney general said Wednesday in remarks to a fair housing conference in Washington, D.C. "I offer the families of these officers my condolences, and I ask that all of us come together and keep them in our prayers."

California authorities have agreed to sharply limit the number of inmates held in isolation for long periods of time, a major development in the national debate about solitary confinement.

The agreement resolves a class-action lawsuit filed by prisoners who say the practice amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. Advocates say it could change the daily lives of as many as 2,000 inmates stuck in isolation because authorities determined they had some ties to a gang.

A longtime federal judge struggled Monday over what constitutes justice for members of one of Washington, D.C.'s most notorious drug rings.

Senior U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth pressed a public defender about the fate of Melvin Butler, a man who helped flood the city with cocaine that contributed to waves of violence in the late 1980s.

"You're saying that I can't consider the fact that he was one of the biggest drug dealers in the history of our city?" the judge asked. "Congress has tied my hands and I can't consider that?"

A 20-year member of Congress indicted on racketeering charges is challenging restrictions on his ability to meet with colleagues as "an undue and unnecessary burden...that is effectively impairing his ability" to do his job.

Last month, a federal grand jury in Philadelphia indicted Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Penn., on conspiracy, bribery, and fraud counts for allegedly using political campaigns and nonprofit groups to cover personal expenses and evade campaign finance laws.

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The Justice Department is trying to make it easier for Native American tribes to gain access to national crime databases. Federal authorities say the program could prevent criminals from buying guns and help keep battered women and foster children safe.

The issue of who can see information in federal criminal databases might sound boring, until one considers a deadly shooting at a high school in Washington state last year.

For now, federal authorities characterize the Justice Department inquiry into Hillary Clinton's private email server as a security situation: a simple matter of finding out whether classified information leaked out during her tenure as secretary of state, and where it went.

Except, former government officials said, that's not going to be so simple.

"I think that the FBI will be moving with all deliberate speed to determine whether there were serious breaches of national security here," said Ron Hosko, who used to lead the FBI's criminal investigative division.

#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers throughout our newsroom share pieces that have kept them reading. They share tidbits using the #NPRreads hashtag — and on Fridays, we highlight some of the best stories.

This week, we bring you three items.

From NPR's South America correspondent, Lourdes Garcia-Navarro:

Advocates and inmates working to overhaul the criminal justice system will have to wait at least a little longer for congressional action.

The Republican leader of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Charles Grassley, said he won't hold a public event on sentencing reform proposals until after the August recess, as language is still being drafted by a bipartisan working group. And in the U.S. House, lawmakers and their aides will spend at least the next five weeks making adjustments to a sweeping bill sponsored by 40 Democrats and Republicans, sources told NPR Friday.

Justice Department lawyers who prosecute errant corporations and executives are bringing in a new member to the team — a full-time expert in compliance programs.

Andrew Weissmann, who leads the Fraud Section in the criminal division at the Justice Department, said the new hire is all part of a plan to reduce corporate crime.

It took a while for Dana Bowerman's long prison sentence to sink in.

Bowerman is a onetime honor student and cheerleader whose brassy personality cleared most obstacles from her path. But there was one hurdle her quick mind couldn't leap. In early 2001, Bowerman got sent away for nearly 20 years on federal drug conspiracy charges, her first and only offense. It wasn't until two years in, in her bunk behind a fence in a Texas prison, that her fate seemed real.

"It was a hard swallow," Bowerman said.

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The Justice Department's top watchdog said Thursday a newly released legal opinion undermines his independence and makes it more difficult to do his job.

Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said the memo will delay access to grand jury, wiretap and other documents he needs to investigate problems at the Justice Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI and elsewhere.

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When Chuck Rosenberg took the top job at the Drug Enforcement Administration two months ago, the longtime prosecutor had a reputation as "Mister Fix It."

The DEA has had a rough time lately — including scandals like agents at sex parties financed by drug cartels. He's now going to be keenly interested in the whereabouts of Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who recently escaped from prison.

But there was something else that has really taken Rosenberg's breath away these first few months on the job: drug overdose.

Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET

FBI Director James Comey said the man accused of killing nine people in a Charleston, S.C., church should never have been allowed to purchase a weapon.

Comey said flaws in paperwork and communication between a federal background check worker and state law enforcement allowed Dylann Roof to buy a handgun in South Carolina on April 16 — weeks before he allegedly attacked black churchgoers in a failed attempt to fuel a race war.

FBI Director James Comey said authorities have arrested "more than 10 people" over the past four weeks who have been radicalized through slick electronic recruitment efforts tied to the self-proclaimed Islamic state.

"We arrested them to try to thwart what they were up to," the FBI director said in a briefing with reporters Thursday in his Washington conference room.

"I do believe our work disrupted efforts to kill people, likely related to the Fourth of July," Comey added.

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Federal prosecutors in Tennessee have notified an 85-year-old nun they will not seek to reinstate her sabotage conviction for breaking into a nuclear facility.

The U.S. Justice Department has reached a settlement with the state of Mississippi to overhaul the way young people are arrested and processed through the juvenile courts, NPR has learned.

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The office hallway could be in Anytown, America, with its gray walls, bad lighting and piles of photocopy paper. That is, except for this distinguishing feature: an unknown man, armed with a weapon, who popped into view.

"Do I want to shoot this guy?" I asked the law enforcement trainer beside me.

The reply came fast: "Well, he's got a gun."

My weapon: a Glock equipped with a laser, not live ammunition — and thank goodness for that.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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