Joaquin Sapien


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.

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.

One Drywall Lawsuit Against National Gypsum Dismissed; Other Claims Pending

A lawsuit filed by an Arizona homeowner against one of the nation’s largest drywall manufacturers has been voluntarily dismissed.

While Nuclear Waste Piles Up in U.S., Billions in Fund to Handle It Sit Unused

Energy companies have been suing the government over a lack of a long-term fix for nuclear waste -- costing taxpayers millions and potentially billions.

Lowe’s Settlement in Drywall Cases Moves Closer to Finalization

More than 20,000 people have already submitted claims saying they bought defective drywall from Lowe’s home improvement stores. A judge has given preliminary approval to the settlement.

Senators Call on CPSC to Allow Public Comment on New Drywall Fix

Senators say homeowners suffering through "the nightmare of problem drywall" deserve more information about how the homes can best be repaired.

Federal Agency Changes Guidelines for Repairing Homes With Defective Drywall

Wiring doesn't necessarily need to be removed from homes built with defective drywall, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Expert: Builder’s New Guidelines for Chinese Drywall “Feel Like a Whitewash”

New National Association of Home Builders guidelines for testing and fixing homes built with suspect Chinese drywall conflict with Consumer Product Safety Commission recommendations.

PA Governor Gives Energy Executive Supreme Authority Over Environmental Permitting

Pennsylvania’s governor has appointed an energy industry executive to oversee the state’s job creation effort and wants to give him unusual authority to streamline state permits, including for gas drilling.

Fort Bragg Infant Death Toll May Climb to Twelve

Another baby has died in military housing at Fort Bragg. Now investigators are examining the house for tainted drywall and other possible contaminants.

Habitat for Humanity Buys Back House Built with Chinese Drywall

Habitat for Humanity has become the first builder to buy back a house built with Chinese drywall.

Experts Skeptical of New Report on Infant Deaths at Fort Bragg

Experts say tests used to eliminate drywall as a problem were unreliable and incomplete—and that more tests should have been done to determine the cause of recent infant deaths at the base.

Drywall Woes Continue -- Seeking Redress in Court Could Provide Little Relief

Homeowners affected by problems with defective drywall have been forced to fend for themselves and many have turned to the courts for help. Thousands of lawsuits have been consolidated and are being tried in federal court. But the homeowners’ chances of getting quick relief through private litigation are slim.

Find Homes With Tainted Drywall

When the Consumer Products Safety Commission provided data in October, the agency said it had received fewer than 3,500 reports of tainted drywall. ProPublica and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune compiled a list of addresses from county property appraiser data and records in consolidated lawsuits filed in New Orleans federal court and found nearly twice that number: around 6,900 homes.

American-Made Drywall Emerges as Potential Danger

Thousands of Americans have houses contaminated by defective Chinese drywall; now a new group of homeowners say they are experiencing similar problems -- but their homes are built with drywall made in the United States.

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