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.

Investigation Exposes Failings of Oversight in NYC Group Homes

City investigators say oversight was so lax at homes for juvenile offenders that violent episodes were “all but inevitable.”

Yet Another Scandal Rocks Utah Home for Vulnerable Children

Police raided the home after an employee reported sex among residents and misconduct by staff.

Brooklyn Prosecutors Admit Woman Spent 10 Years in Prison for Crime She Likely Didn’t Commit

The review of a controversial Brooklyn detective's casework has led to yet another conviction being wiped out.

Report Cites Failure to Act Against Abusers of Juveniles in Detention

Amid significant reforms, federal officials worry that sexual abuse in juvenile justice system remains prevalent and too often unpunished.

The Trials of New York’s Family Court

A journalist immerses herself in New York’s Family Court system and finds a mix of misery and modest hope.

Out of Options, California Ships Hundreds of Troubled Children Out of State

One 14-year-old boy’s search for care takes him to Utah as his home state struggles to safeguard its most challenging children.

California Backs off Group Homes, Looks to Lean on Foster Families

As California dismantles its beleaguered system of youth group homes, state lawmakers bet big on expanding foster care.

Los Angeles County Examines Troubled Group Home’s Finances

As a group home for some of the state’s most troubled children prepares to close, county auditors are poring over its finances.

Troubled California Group Home to Close

Management’s decision to close a home in Long Beach ends one crisis, but the state is still seeking answers for dealing with its most troubled children.

Trial And Error: A Man Convicted of Murder Wins Release, and Questions of Responsibility Linger

It turns out Brooklyn prosecutors for years hid the evidence Ruddy Quezada had sought to win a new trial. Who should pay?

‘No Place for a Kid to Go’

In Long Beach, California, a group home for troubled children sinks into crisis.

Capitol Case: Robert Freeman’s Enduring Fight Against Government Secrecy

Freeman, the executive director of the New York Committee on Open Government, reflects on seven governors and their records for transparency.

In Rare Step, Workers at California Group Home Unionize

Frontline employees at a San Francisco home for some of California’s most troubled children bid for better pay and a greater role in treatment.

Widespread Problems With Group Home Agency Prompt City to Cut Ties

Boys Town becomes third agency to fail as New York City tries new model for juvenile offenders.

Violent Crimes Mar Effort at Less Restrictive Homes for Children

The arrest of three runaway boys shines light on New York City’s latest program for troubled youth.

Congress to Consider Scaling Down Group Homes for Troubled Children

At a hearing in Washington, a renewed call for addressing the violence and neglect that plagues group homes for foster youth.

Juror and Former Officer Raise Doubt About Patz Prosecution

On a question that worried a juror in the Etan Patz murder case, a former cop offers his view.

Racist Posts on NY Cop Blog Raise Ire at Time of Tension

A blog hosting posts from former and current New York City officers reinforces the worst kinds of stereotypes.

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