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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.

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.

Her work has been honored with awards from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, the Society for Professional Journalists, SABEW, and the National Juvenile Defender Center. 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.

Updated October 14, 2021 at 6:40 PM ET

The Justice Department has agreed to restore full law enforcement benefits and provide some attorney fees for former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was fired by the Trump administration only hours before his retirement three years ago.

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The Justice Department is directing prosecutors to coordinate with state and local authorities in cases where federal charges won't be brought, part of a broad new push to support crime victims.

A federal judge is weighing arguments on the Justice Department's emergency request to block Texas' controversial new abortion law.

Department attorneys and lawyers for the state of Texas made their cases on Friday at a virtual hearing before Judge Robert Pitman of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. At stake is the ability of women in the country's second-largest state to get an abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, a time before which many people don't realize they're pregnant.

Updated September 30, 2021 at 5:55 PM ET

The Justice Department is combating a surge in counterfeit pills that can cause deadly drug overdoses, an effort that in the past two months has led to the arrest of more than 800 people, 60 search warrants and 1.8 million recovered counterfeit pills laced with enough fentanyl to kill 700,000 Americans.

"We are here to let the American people know that one pill can kill," Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said at a news conference Thursday in Washington, D.C.

A federal judge has approved the unconditional release next year of John Hinckley Jr., who wounded President Ronald Reagan and three others outside a Washington, D.C., hotel in a failed assassination attempt in 1981.

Hinckley is now 66 years old and has been living outside a mental health facility for the past several years, a result of a gradual lightening of supervision. His lawyer said the "momentous event" of Hinckley's full release in June is both appropriate and required by the law.

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Updated September 15, 2021 at 4:49 PM ET

People locked up in the Leavenworth Detention Center in Kansas have been reaching out for help nearly every day.

The for-profit facility, which houses federal prisoners awaiting trial or sentencing, has been on 24-hour lockdown since a person died there last month. The death followed months of violence targeting both detainees and corrections officers inside the center just 30 miles from Kansas City.

Updated September 9, 2021 at 6:25 PM ET

The Department of Justice has sued the state of Texas over a new law that bans abortions after about six weeks, before most people realize they are pregnant, all but halting the procedure in the country's second-largest state.

The lawsuit says the state enacted the law "in open defiance of the Constitution."

The Justice Department calls the Voting Rights Act of 1965 "the most successful piece of civil rights legislation ever adopted by the United States Congress."

The law put an end to literacy tests, which prevented many people from registering to vote, in a half-dozen states, granted the attorney general the power to send observers to witness elections and gave the federal government the authority to preapprove voting and election changes in places with a history of discrimination.

COVID-19 has exacted a terrible toll inside America's prisons, spreading there at six times the rate as among the general population.

The coronavirus pandemic motivated tens of thousands of incarcerated people to request early release on the grounds that their old age and health troubles made them especially vulnerable.

But the Federal Bureau of Prisons told lawmakers that of the nearly 31,000 prisoners to request compassionate release, the BOP approved just 36.

The Justice Department is launching an investigation of the Phoenix Police Department over allegations of excessive use of force and homeless abuse.

"When we conduct pattern or practice investigations to determine whether the Constitution or federal law has been violated, our aim is to promote transparency and accountability," Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement announcing the investigation Thursday afternoon. "This increases public trust, which in turn increases public safety. We know that law enforcement shares these goals."

The Justice Department has paved the way for a House panel to get former President Donald Trump's tax returns in what could be the beginning of the end of years of delay and court battles.

In a new legal opinion released Friday, the department concluded that the House Ways and Means Committee has invoked "sufficient" legislative reasons for access to the sensitive materials, including what the panel said were "serious concerns" about how the Internal Revenue Service is operating an audit program for presidents.

The Justice Department is putting states on notice about their obligations under federal law as GOP-led efforts to conduct reviews of the 2020 election intensify.

Federal authorities on Wednesday issued a pair of new guidance documents to states and voters to remind them of their responsibilities — and their rights.

The moves are part of the Biden administration's push to demonstrate it is on guard amid new voting restrictions proposed and enacted by Republican-led states across the nation — and as Democratic-led federal voting legislation has stalled in Congress.

A lawsuit against the men who spoke at a rally before the Capitol riot on Jan. 6 is putting the Justice Department in a tricky position.

The department is considering whether those federal officials acted within the scope of their jobs that day, which would trigger a form of legal immunity. Government watchdogs said the case has serious implications for who's held accountable for violence that delayed the election certification and contributed to the deaths of five people.

Six months after the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, attorneys who promoted former President Donald Trump's false claims about election fraud are being forced to defend their actions in court.

But some experts say the abuses over the past four years compel the legal profession to perform some deeper soul-searching.

Updated June 30, 2021 at 12:26 PM ET

A new proposal from District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine could overhaul the way juveniles are charged as adults and offer greater opportunities for rehabilitation than a federal prison.

If passed, the proposal would impact people like Charlie Curtis, who was charged with armed robbery and sent to adult court at the age of 16 — a decision that he said left him confused and adrift.

Updated May 25, 2021 at 11:30 AM ET

The Justice Department released a portion of an internal memo cited by former leaders as part of their decision concluding that former President Donald Trump did not obstruct justice, but in a court filing late Monday said it would seek to block the full document from release.

Davon-Marie Grimmer has been struggling to get help for more than year for her cousin, Kent Clark. Sometimes, when he calls from prison, he asks to speak with relatives who are no longer alive. Sometimes, he forgets the name of his cellmate.

"As far as I know, he hasn't received any medical attention for the dementia, and he's just so vulnerable in there," Grimmer said. "He's 66 years old. He can't take care of himself."

Updated May 7, 2021 at 12:29 PM ET

The Justice Department has filed federal criminal charges against Derek Chauvin, accusing the former police officer of using excessive force and violating the civil rights of George Floyd. Floyd died after Chauvin pressed on his neck for more than nine minutes on the pavement outside a convenience store last year in Minneapolis.

Updated April 29, 2021 at 12:01 AM ET

Federal investigators in Manhattan executed a search warrant Wednesday at Rudy Giuliani's apartment as part of a probe into the former New York City mayor's activities involving Ukraine, his attorney told NPR.

A major civil rights group says the Justice Department has more a lot more power than it's using to change the behavior of local police departments.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund wants Attorney General Merrick Garland to suspend grants to local law enforcement until he's sure that no federal taxpayer money is funding police departments that engage in discrimination, according to a letter obtained by NPR.

Updated April 21, 2021 at 6:03 PM ET

One day after a jury convicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on murder charges, the U.S. Justice Department launched an investigation into possible patterns of discrimination and excessive force among the police department there.

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Well, to talk about the legal implications of this verdict, we're joined now by NPR national justice correspondent Carrie Johnson.

Hi, Carrie.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Hi, Ari.

Updated April 14, 2021 at 2:22 PM ET

Kristen Clarke grew up in public housing in Brooklyn, as the daughter of Jamaican immigrants.

Now, she's in line to become the first woman and the first woman of color to formally lead the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division since it was created in 1957.

That's if she can get through a closely divided Senate, where Republicans have signaled they will put up a fight.

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Updated April 1, 2021 at 9:28 AM ET

Current and former officials at the U.S. Marshals Service said they are worried about an executive order from the Biden administration that phases out contracts with private prisons and jails.

It's a staple on some of the longest-running crime shows on television: Communications between people charged with crimes and their lawyers are protected from government snooping under what's known as attorney-client privilege.

In practice, things don't always work that way, especially when it comes to email messages between incarcerated people in the federal system and their attorneys. That's because within the Federal Bureau of Prisons, inmates are asked to "voluntarily" agree to electronic monitoring in order to use the bureau's email system.

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