Carrie Johnson

Carrie Johnson covers the Justice Department for NPR.

She has spent the last decade and a half chronicling legal affairs in the nation's capital and beyond. Johnson worked at the Washington Post from 2000 to 2010, when 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.

Johnson's work has won 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. She lives in Washington but always is planning her next exotic trip.

Pages

2:43pm

Fri December 19, 2014
Boxed In

Sentenced For Life, Inmate Still Holds Hope For Release

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 5:39 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.

Read more

2:48pm

Tue December 16, 2014
Law

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

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 12:34 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 PeƱaloza 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."

Read more

3:11am

Tue December 16, 2014
Law

Judge Regrets Harsh Human Toll Of Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 1:08 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.

Read more

3:13am

Wed November 26, 2014
It's All Politics

Federal Ferguson Investigation Will Remain Independent, Holder Insists

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 6:15 am

Attorney General Eric Holder visited Ferguson, Mo., in August, where he met with elected and police officials and community members.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

This post was updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

Attorney General Eric Holder says "far more must be done to create enduring trust" between police and communities they serve, even as his Justice Department continues to investigate possible discriminatory police actions in Ferguson, Mo.

Read more

2:46pm

Thu November 6, 2014
Law

Brooklyn Prosecutor Could Be Nominated Attorney General In Coming Days

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 3:59 pm

Loretta Lynch has handled or supervised a wide range of cases including New York police brutality against a Haitian immigrant, a $45 million cybertheft involving ATMs and the ongoing fraud prosecution of Republican Rep. Michael Grimm of New York.
Seth Wenig AP

Two sources familiar with the process tell NPR that Loretta Lynch, the top prosecutor in Brooklyn, could be nominated by President Obama as attorney general in the coming days.

Lynch is the lead federal prosecutor in a district that serves 8 million people. But outside of law enforcement circles, this daughter of a preacher is not widely known. Friends say that's because Lynch prefers to let her cases speak for themselves.

Read more

Pages