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.

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.

Investigations of California Group Homes Marked By Delays and Uncertainty

When California’s Department of Social Services investigates reports of serious harm in its homes for troubled children, the results are often deemed “inconclusive.”

How We Reported 'Level 14'

Level 14

How a home for troubled children came undone and what it means for California’s chance at reform.

In Complicated Patz Case, Informant Could Testify About Suspect Not on Trial

The defense in the Patz murder trial will argue another man is more likelier the killer of the young boy. Jack Colbert might help make that case.

New York City Will Pay $10 Million to Settle Wrongful Conviction Case

Revelations about the prosecution of Jabbar Collins, who served 15 years for a murder he did not commit, helped to bring down longtime Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes

New York State to Pay Millions in Wrongful Conviction Case

A Brooklyn man who spent more than a dozen years in prison for a crime he likely did not commit will receive $3 million from New York State. He may get even more from New York City.

For a Respected Prosecutor, An Unpardonable Failure

Evidence of a convicted murderer’s possible innocence sat buried in a case file for more than two decades. Now, a prosecutor in Brooklyn will have to answer for the mistake.

Attorney General Holder Requires Recording of Interrogations, Unlike New York City

A new Department of Justice policy says federal agents must record interrogations, as a way to protect against coercion and false confessions.

Sentenced to Wait: Efforts to End Prison Rape Stall Again

The Prison Rape Elimination Act was passed in Washington 2003. It still hasn’t been fully implemented.

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