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.

A bipartisan task force created by Congress issued "an urgent call to action" Tuesday to overhaul the nation's federal prisons and reduce the number of U.S. inmates by 60,000 over the next decade.

For months, FBI Director James Comey has been warning about a troubling spike in homicides in some of America's biggest cities.

On Tuesday, the bureau released preliminary crime statistics that back up some of his concerns. The FBI reported that violent crime rose in the first six months of 2015, with murders increasing by more than 6 percent over that same stretch the year before.

It's not every day the White House and Republican leaders in Congress have a meeting of the minds.

But before he left for the holidays, the president singled out an issue he considers ripe for compromise next year. "I still want to work with Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, to reform our criminal justice system," President Obama said.

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan has been sounding a hopeful note, too, telling an audience recently: "I do believe that there are things where we can find common ground on next; criminal justice reform is a good example."

The Commonwealth Court in Pennsylvania unanimously ruled Wednesday that a state law that prevents convicted criminals from getting full-time jobs in nursing homes or long-term-care facilities is unconstitutional.

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Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And let's bring in another voice here. It's actually another Johnson. It's my colleague, NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson. She's been listening. And, Carrie, good morning.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Good morning, David.

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

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The jurors who will be chosen to hear the first case against a police officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore will be anonymous, at least for now.

A judge has ruled that their identities can be shielded from the public. That practice is controversial, but not unheard of in high-profile cases.

The bipartisan effort to overhaul the criminal justice system for drug offenders has hit a speed bump.

Some members of Congress are trying to tie those lighter punishments for drug defendants to a new bill that the Justice Department says would make it harder to prosecute a range of crimes from food safety to business fraud.

The plan, passed by voice vote by the House Judiciary Committee to little notice last week, would require prosecutors to prove guilt to a higher standard in many cases, by default.

The mayor of Gary, Ind., acknowledged Thursday that police in some cities may be stepping back because of a rise in public scrutiny of their actions, a controversial phenomenon known as the Ferguson effect.

The chief of the Justice Department's civil rights division says "too many barriers still exist in courts across America" when it comes to providing lawyers to poor criminal defendants.

In a speech to the first-ever National Consortium on the Right to Counsel, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta said, "The bottom line is this: Denying one's Sixth Amendment right to counsel can negatively impact public safety. And it also drains precious taxpayer resources."

This story was updated at 2:15 p.m. ET Thursday

The acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration said the police may be "reluctant to engage" for fear "rightly, or wrongly, that you become the next viral video," adding a new voice to the debate over public scrutiny of law enforcement.

Over the past few days, thousands of federal prisoners have been leaving confinement early and returning to their communities — the result of changes to sentencing guidelines for drug-related crimes.

And who will be monitoring those former inmates?

In some ways, the buck stops with Matthew Rowland. He's the chief of the probation and pretrial services office at the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

The FBI Agents Association honored fallen colleagues and the former head of U.S. Special Operations in a star-studded charity gala in Washington on Wednesday.

The second-annual awards dinner generated money to help provide scholarships for children of FBI workers and funds that offer "special assistance" to agents and their families.

More than a hundred of the nation's top police chiefs and prosecutors are joining forces today to launch a new effort to cut the number of people in prison. The new coalition of 120 heavyweights, called Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, is based on one big idea: Putting too many people behind bars doesn't keep the public safe.

"Our experience has been, and in some ways it's counterintuitive, that you really can reduce crime and incarceration at the same time," said Ronal Serpas, co-chair of the group.

The top Republican and Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee are preparing to introduce a bill Thursday they're billing as "companion" legislation to the major Senate sentencing overhaul unveiled last week.

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