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.

Nation’s Largest Mental Health Organization Urges Supported Housing Reforms

In a letter citing a ProPublica and Frontline investigation, the National Alliance on Mental Illness has asked a U.S. district judge to ensure that people who have moved out of adult homes and into their own apartments have what they need to do so safely.

After Years in Institutions, a Road Home Paved With Hunger, Violence and Death

A housing ruling gave Nestor Bunch independence, with limited support. Was he ready?

Judge Calls for Examination of Quality Controls in New York Supported Housing System

The day ProPublica and Frontline reported how people with mental illness are slipping through the cracks, federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis questioned state officials, suggested more help and requested a report on oversight.

Living Apart, Coming Undone

Under a landmark settlement, an ambitious housing program promised a better life for mentally ill New Yorkers. But some of the most vulnerable slip through the cracks.

Bill Proposes Greater Accountability for New York Prosecutors Who Break the Law

With his signature, Gov. Andrew Cuomo could create an independent state commission to investigate and sanction prosecutors who withhold evidence or commit other abuses.

The Breakthrough: A Reporter Goes to Ground Zero for Today’s American HIV Epidemic

Linda Villarosa had spent decades covering the spread of AIDS. She thought she was done. Then, she visited Jackson, Mississippi.

The Breakthrough: How a Reporter Uncovered Widespread Russian Meddling — In the Olympics

New York Times reporter Rebecca Ruiz scored a confession from a Russian doctor at the center of a doping scandal that spoiled the 2014 Winter Games.

The Breakthrough: A Reporter Finds a Man Proven Innocent, But Still Guilty in Eyes of the Law

ProPublica’s Megan Rose tells the story of a Las Vegas circus performer, a drifter and an ambitious prosecutor tangled in a case of wrongful conviction.

The Breakthrough: Hopelessness and Exploitation Inside Homes for Mentally Ill

A reporter finds that homes meant to replace New York’s troubled psychiatric hospitals might be just as bad.

‘The 100th Nail in the Coffin’ for Integration in Westchester County

The Trump administration ended a yearslong battle over fair housing, but the promise to end segregation was broken long before that.

The Breakthrough: Reporting on Life and Death in the Delivery Room

ProPublica reporter Nina Martin and her team used social media and old-fashioned shoe leather to show how the U.S. has the worst maternal death rate in the developed world.

On Rikers Island, a Move Toward Reform Causes Trouble

Inmates in a new secure housing unit risk harm while shackled to desks, according to a New York City Board of Corrections report.

The Breakthrough: A Reporter Crosses Borders to Uncover Labor Abuse

ProPublica’s Michael Grabell travels from the heart of Ohio to the mountains of Guatemala to track down immigrant workers harmed in American poultry plants.

The Breakthrough: Uncovering NYC Cops Making Millions in Suspicious Deals

On our first episode of this season’s The Breakthrough, we talk with WNYC’s Robert Lewis tells us how his reporting triggered an internal investigation of suspicious dealings made by active-duty New York police officers.

In a Lonely Corner of Coney Island, a Fight Over Care for the Vulnerable

Life at Oceanview Manor Home for Adults is at the center of the latest court battle involving the New York State Department of Health.

Millions for New York Man Wrongly Convicted of Murder

The award of $4.5 million by New York state is just part of a claim by a man who spent more than two decades in prison based on a dishonest prosecution.

Independent Monitor Faults New York State for Delays in Aiding Mentally Ill

A court-ordered plan to move residents from notorious group homes produces backlogs and concern over state’s commitment to help thousands of mentally ill.

California Group Home Liable for Millions in Case of Abused Boy

A jury hit FamiliesFirst, one of California’s largest mental health care providers, for neglect and fraud.

Federal Judge Sees New York State Conspiracy to Thwart Care for Mentally Ill

The judge who oversaw landmark case involving troubled homes for the mentally ill sends word to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman that state’s efforts to undermine care must end.

New York Parents in Custody Fights Lack Right to See Expert Reports

One state legislator is again pushing a bill that would grant parents the legal right to see the expert evaluations judges use to decide custody and other cases.

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