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.

Top Trump Fundraiser Boasted of Raising $3 Million to Support Jan. 6 “Save America” Rally

Caroline Wren, who had worked on the Trump campaign, told associates she distributed funds to a number of political organizations backing the rally, including Tea Party Express and Turning Point.

January 6 Select Committee Subpoenas Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Other Top Aides

Citing a June ProPublica report, the committee says there is “credible evidence” of Meadows’ involvement in events leading up to the attack on the Capitol.

New Details Suggest Senior Trump Aides Knew Jan. 6 Rally Could Get Chaotic

Text messages and interviews show that Stop the Steal leaders fooled the Capitol police and welcomed racists to increase their crowd sizes, while White House officials worked to both contain and appease them.

In Exclusive Jailhouse Letter, Capitol Riot Defendant Explains Motives, Remains Boastful

The material obtained by ProPublica sheds light on the radicalization of a Jan. 6 defendant whom prosecutors have characterized as a “serious danger ... not only to his family and Congress, but to the entire system of justice.”

As New York City Moves to Address Racialized Policing of Sex Work, Advocates and Lawyers Say It’s Not Enough

In the wake of a 2020 ProPublica investigation, Mayor Bill de Blasio has called for convening a task force to address problems with how the city polices the sex trade. “But it feels like planning to make a plan,” one attorney said.

6 Questions Officials Still Haven’t Answered After Weeks of Hearings on the Capitol Attack

More than 15 hours of testimony failed to answer fundamental questions about the Capitol attack. Among them: Why national security officials responded differently to BLM protesters than to Trump supporters.

“I Don’t Trust the People Above Me”: Riot Squad Cops Open Up About Disastrous Response to Capitol Insurrection

Interviews with 19 current and former officers show how failures of leadership and communication put hundreds of Capitol cops at risk and allowed rioters to get dangerously close to members of Congress.

New York City Council Proposes Sweeping NYPD Reforms

The council has announced a package of bills to reshape the NYPD and improve officer accountability. A City Council member cited a “direct line” from ProPublica’s coverage to the proposals.

“No One Took Us Seriously”: Black Cops Warned About Racist Capitol Police Officers for Years

Allegations of racism against the Capitol Police are nothing new: Over 250 Black cops have sued the department since 2001. Some of those former officers now say it’s no surprise white nationalists were able to storm the building.

New York Lawmakers Demand NYPD Halt Undercover Sex Trade Stings

A dozen city and state officials also called for the disbandment of vice, the primary division that polices the sex trade; some want investigations into misconduct allegations against the unit, including withholding of evidence.

NYPD Cops Cash In on Sex Trade Arrests With Little Evidence, While Black and Brown New Yorkers Pay the Price

Some NYPD officers who police the sex trade, driven by overtime pay, go undercover to round up as many “bodies” as they can with little evidence. Almost no one they arrest is white.

Over a Dozen Black and Latino Men Accused a Cop of Humiliating, Invasive Strip Searches. The NYPD Kept Promoting Him.

The men said Assistant Chief Christopher McCormack touched them inappropriately during searches or ordered others to do so. Eighty-six NYPD leaders have at least one credible misconduct allegation on file. McCormack has the most.

Local Officials Say a Nursing Home Dumped Residents to Die at Hospitals

The deaths of 18 residents of a New York nursing home highlight the continuing controversy over the Cuomo administration’s decision not to count deaths in hospitals as nursing home deaths. The home denies the allegations.

The Cuomo Administration Hasn’t Said Which Nursing Homes Were Infected With COVID-19 After Its Order Sent Positive Patients Into Them

Dozens of New York nursing homes didn’t see their first COVID-19 case until sick patients were sent there, many under Andrew Cuomo’s state policy. To date, 6% of the state’s nursing home population, or roughly 6,500 residents, have died.

Andrew Cuomo’s Report on Controversial Nursing Home Policy for COVID Patients Prompts More Controversy

A state report on Cuomo’s decision to order nursing homes to take in COVID positive patients in the early days of the pandemic fails to deal with the central question: did such admissions lead to more infection and death, and if so how significantly.

“Fire Through Dry Grass”: Andrew Cuomo Saw COVID-19’s Threat to Nursing Homes. Then He Risked Adding to It.

A nursing home in Troy, New York, followed the governor’s order to accept patients being treated for COVID-19. Six weeks later, 18 residents were dead of the disease.

Two Coasts. One Virus. How New York Suffered Nearly 10 Times the Number of Deaths as California.

California’s governor and San Francisco’s mayor worked together to act early in confronting the COVID threat. For Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio, it was a different story, and 27,000 New Yorkers have died so far.

The State Attorney General Is Scrutinizing This Assisted Living Facility Over Its Handling of COVID-19. Some Residents Are Suing It, Too.

Coronavirus was infecting residents and staff of a Queens adult home, who told ProPublica management had misled them about its spread. Now, the New York attorney general is examining what happened and several residents are suing.

“Did I Mess This Up?” A Father Dying From Coronavirus, a Distraught Daughter and a Midnight Rescue.

Terrified residents, families and staff of the Queens Adult Care Center have watched helplessly as COVID-19 runs rampant. They say management lied about the extent of its spread. Here’s how one daughter rescued her sick dad.

Now That Coronavirus Is Inside This Adult Home for the Elderly or Mentally Ill, It May Be Impossible to Stop

The staff and residents of an adult home for old, sick or mentally ill New Yorkers fear the virus is spreading and nobody will tell them who is sick. At least one resident has already died. Several have tested positive.

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