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.

What Researchers Learned About Gun Violence Before Congress Killed Funding

We spoke with the scientist who led the government's research on guns.

How the NRA Undermined Congress' Last Push for Gun Control

We reconstruct how the NRA advanced two measures long on its agenda in the wake of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting.

Home Builders Lobby Weakens Drywall Legislation

A bill heralded by lawmakers as a victory for thousands of homeowners harmed by contaminated drywall was weakened after input from the homebuilding industry.

Mass Shootings Do Little to Change State Gun Laws

We take a look at what's happened legislatively in states where some of the worst shootings in recent U.S. history have occurred to see what effect, if any, those events had on gun laws.

Army Study Finds Troops Suffer Concussions in Training

Brain specialists say Army's training may make soldiers more vulnerable to head injuries on the battlefield.

One Soldier's Progress Against Traumatic Brain Injury

With the help of virtual-reality machines and a bevy of specialists, Sgt. Victor Medina's thinking and speaking rapidly improved. But he's among only a tiny fraction of brain-injured soldiers who get access to the most advanced treatment at military's new state-of-the-art center in Maryland.

EPA Sees Risks to Water, Workers In New York Fracking Rules

In 47 pages of comments, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency weighs in on New York’s potentially precedent-setting regulations for natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale.

Military Still Struggling to Treat Troops With Brain Injuries

Defense Department leaders and lawmakers have taken steps to improve the diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injuries since ProPublica and NPR began a two-year investigation, but progress remains incremental.

Drywall Manufacturer Agrees to Settlement

Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin is the first manufacturer to agree to settle defective drywall cases lodged in federal court. The settlement could pay to repair more than 5,000 homes, plaintiffs’ attorneys say.

Senator Wants Answers on Program to Test Soldiers for Brain Injuries

Sen. Claire McCaskill has requested a briefing from the military on its troubled neurological testing program.

Senate Subcommittee Grills CPSC on Drywall

Lawmakers questioned CPSC and CDC officials about the progress of a years-long federal investigation into contaminated drywall at a Senate hearing.

Congressman Slams Military Brain-Testing Program

Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., sought support to fix the military’s cognitive testing program following a ProPublica and NPR report on the issue earlier this week.

Testing Program Fails Soldiers, Leaving Brain Injuries Undetected

Faced with a congressional mandate to use computerized testing to detect brain injuries, the military chose an unproven test and then botched its implementation.

Gov't Watchdog Criticizes Pentagon Center for PTSD, Brain Injuries

The Pentagon’s Defense Centers of Excellence are plagued by management weakness and obscure finances, according to recent Government Accountability Office reports.

Insurers for Drywall Supplier Settle Lawsuit

Stricter Regulation of Formaldehyde Remains Uncertain Despite Carcinogen Ruling

The Department of Health and Human Services has classified formaldehyde as "a known carcinogen," but it remains to be seen if the new designation will lead to tighter U.S. formaldehyde regulations.

More Than Half of Recent War Vets Treated by VA Are Struggling With Mental Health Problems

Pressure increases on the military to improve mental health care as new data shows that 51 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are treated by the VA for psychological problems, up from 20 percent in 2004.

CID Concludes Infant Death Investigation at Fort Bragg

The Army Criminal Investigation Command has completed its investigation into the deaths of 10 infants who died of undetermined causes at Fort Bragg, N.C., but questions still linger.

CPSC Report on U.S.-Made Drywall Raises More Questions Than Answers

The CPSC's new report on American-made drywall says 'agency resource constraints' limited the investigation into whether American-made drywall is causing problems like those associated with Chinese-made drywall.

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