Joaquin Sapien

Reporter

Photo of Joaquin Sapien

Joaquin Sapien was one of the first reporters hired at ProPublica in its first year of publishing in 2008. Since then, his journalism has explored a broad range of topics, including criminal justice, social services, and the environment. In 2019, he was a co-producer and correspondent for “Right to Fail,” a film for the PBS documentary series Frontline. The film was based on his 2018 examination of a flawed housing program for New Yorkers with mental illness, which appeared in the New York Times. The story immediately prompted a federal judge to order an independent investigation into the program. It won a Deadline Club Award and a Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability.

In 2015, Sapien wrote about care for troubled children, beginning with a story in the California Sunday Magazine on a group home that descended into chaos. His work helped an abused boy receive a $12 million jury award and led to the closure of another embattled home in Long Beach.

Past areas of focus include New York City Family Court, prosecutorial misconduct, traumatic brain injury, natural gas drilling, and contaminated drywall used to rebuild after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Sapien’s work has earned awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of Environmental Journalists, and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He was a four-time finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists. Before joining ProPublica, Sapien was a reporter at the Center for Public Integrity.

Over a Dozen Black and Latino Men Accused a Cop of Humiliating, Invasive Strip Searches. The NYPD Kept Promoting Him.

The men said Assistant Chief Christopher McCormack touched them inappropriately during searches or ordered others to do so. Eighty-six NYPD leaders have at least one credible misconduct allegation on file. McCormack has the most.

Local Officials Say a Nursing Home Dumped Residents to Die at Hospitals

The deaths of 18 residents of a New York nursing home highlight the continuing controversy over the Cuomo administration’s decision not to count deaths in hospitals as nursing home deaths. The home denies the allegations.

The Cuomo Administration Hasn’t Said Which Nursing Homes Were Infected With COVID-19 After Its Order Sent Positive Patients Into Them

Dozens of New York nursing homes didn’t see their first COVID-19 case until sick patients were sent there, many under Andrew Cuomo’s state policy. To date, 6% of the state’s nursing home population, or roughly 6,500 residents, have died.

Andrew Cuomo’s Report on Controversial Nursing Home Policy for COVID Patients Prompts More Controversy

A state report on Cuomo’s decision to order nursing homes to take in COVID positive patients in the early days of the pandemic fails to deal with the central question: did such admissions lead to more infection and death, and if so how significantly.

“Fire Through Dry Grass”: Andrew Cuomo Saw COVID-19’s Threat to Nursing Homes. Then He Risked Adding to It.

A nursing home in Troy, New York, followed the governor’s order to accept patients being treated for COVID-19. Six weeks later, 18 residents were dead of the disease.

Two Coasts. One Virus. How New York Suffered Nearly 10 Times the Number of Deaths as California.

California’s governor and San Francisco’s mayor worked together to act early in confronting the COVID threat. For Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio, it was a different story, and 27,000 New Yorkers have died so far.

The State Attorney General Is Scrutinizing This Assisted Living Facility Over Its Handling of COVID-19. Some Residents Are Suing It, Too.

Coronavirus was infecting residents and staff of a Queens adult home, who told ProPublica management had misled them about its spread. Now, the New York attorney general is examining what happened and several residents are suing.

“Did I Mess This Up?” A Father Dying From Coronavirus, a Distraught Daughter and a Midnight Rescue.

Terrified residents, families and staff of the Queens Adult Care Center have watched helplessly as COVID-19 runs rampant. They say management lied about the extent of its spread. Here’s how one daughter rescued her sick dad.

Now That Coronavirus Is Inside This Adult Home for the Elderly or Mentally Ill, It May Be Impossible to Stop

The staff and residents of an adult home for old, sick or mentally ill New Yorkers fear the virus is spreading and nobody will tell them who is sick. At least one resident has already died. Several have tested positive.

Aumentarán la violencia intrafamiliar y el abuso infantil durante las cuarentenas. También empeorará la negligencia contra las personas en riesgo, informan trabajadores sociales.

Diferentes departamentos de servicios sociales se están esforzando por enfrentar las consecuencias de las restricciones causadas por el coronavirus, y los trabajadores sociales informan que grandes cantidades de norteamericanos en riesgo, ancianos, enfermos y discapacitados están en peligro. “Vamos a tener muertes debido a esto”.

Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Will Rise During Quarantines. So Will Neglect of At-Risk People, Social Workers Say.

Patchwork social service departments are scrambling to address the fallout of coronavirus restrictions, and social workers say vast numbers of at-risk, elderly, sick and disabled Americans will be imperiled. “We are going to see some deaths.”

Congress Passed $8.3 Billion in Emergency Coronavirus Funding, but First Responders Still Can’t Buy Masks

None of Congress’ emergency coronavirus funding goes directly to first responders for the protective gear and supplies that paramedics, firefighters and EMTs need to safely fight the virus. One fire chief said they’re being forgotten.

First Responders Face High Risk but Lack Supplies and Personnel to Combat Coronavirus

Key direction from the CDC on how to protect emergency responders came after the first American case and the exposure of at least one firefighter. It’s yet another example of a fragmented and halting response at the highest levels of government.

He Went to Prison After a Prosecutor Hid Evidence. Seven Years After Our Story, He Walked Free.

Tyronne Johnson was featured in a 2013 ProPublica investigation that showed how a prosecutor kept jurors from hearing evidence that may have helped him beat a murder charge. He was granted parole this week and credits the story with helping him.

These Homes for Mentally Ill Adults Have Been Notoriously Mismanaged. Now, One Is a Gruesome Crime Scene.

Oceanview Manor Home for Adults, a psychiatric group home at the center of a yearslong legal battle over the rights of people with mental illness, is now the scene of a criminal investigation involving the death of a resident and the arrest of another.

After Failing Mentally Ill New Yorkers, Adult Homes Get Second Chance

Adult homes warehoused mentally ill people for decades until a court order gave residents a chance to move. The embattled institutions were in danger of closing when the state threw them a financial life raft — the elderly.

Judge Orders Expanded Oversight for Mentally Ill New Yorkers In Supported Housing

A report released this week, commissioned after a ProPublica and Frontline investigation, found that not enough residents were covered by an incident reporting system, among other gaps.

Mentally Ill New Yorkers Seeking Independence Find Safety Net Has Holes, Report Finds

An independent monitor has found that many of the city’s most vulnerable remain stuck in troubled adult homes too long and that the state loses track of them once they move out.

Criminal Justice Legislation Will Force New York Prosecutors to Disclose More Evidence, Sooner

Following years of scandal over wrongful convictions, the state legislature has passed reform measures that could help stop them.

Behind “Right to Fail,” a ProPublica-Frontline Collaboration to Overcome Roadblocks and Privacy Restrictions

A story that began as an examination of New York’s troubled group homes for mentally ill adults evolved into an investigation of the state’s preferred solution to those problems.

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