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.

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.

We Want Your Thoughts on Our Podcast

We recently relaunched our podcast, in which journalists tell us how they nailed their biggest stories. Now we want to hear from you.

For New York Families in Custody Fights, a ‘Black Hole’ of Oversight

Critics say a state office’s professed inability to review the work of mental health experts in Family and Matrimonial Court leaves children at risk.

Did Jury in Etan Patz Murder Case Receive Improper Information?

Lawyers for man convicted in case of notorious missing boy to seek hearing on report of jury contamination.

Dysfunction Disorder

NYC paid millions for flawed mental health reports. Family court judges relied on them routinely. Parents and children lived with the consequences.

Uncommon Contract Holds Promise for California Group Home’s Too Familiar Ills

Better wages and added money for schooling could stabilize staff and improve care at large San Francisco home for vulnerable children.

Call in Congress for Family Court Reform

The briefing will explore the need to better protect victims of domestic violence in custody cases.

Wrongfully Convicted Louisiana Man Asks Justice Department to Investigate New Orleans Prosecutors

Unsuccessful before the U.S. Supreme Court, a man who served 18 years in prison for a crime he did not commit asks the Justice Department to hold prosecutors accountable.

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