Joseph Shapiro is a NPR News Investigations correspondent.
Shapiro's major investigative stories include his reports on the way rising court fines and fees create an unequal system of justice for the poor and the rise of "modern day debtors' prisons," the failure of colleges and universities to punish for on-campus sexual assaults, the epidemic of sexual assault of people with intellectual disabilities, the problems with solitary confinement, the inadequacy of civil rights laws designed to get the elderly and people with disabilities out of nursing homes, and the little-known profits involved in the production of medical products from donated human cadavers.
His "Child Cases" series, reported with PBS Frontline and ProPublica, found two dozen cases in the U.S. and Canada where parents and caregivers were charged with killing children, but the charges were later reversed or dropped. Since that series, a Texas man who was the focus of one story was released from prison. And in California, a woman who was the subject of another story had her sentence commuted.
Shapiro joined NPR in November 2001 and spent eight years covering health, aging, disability, and children's and family issues on the Science Desk. He reported on the health issues of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and helped start NPR's 2005 Impact of War series with reporting from Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center. He covered stories from Hurricane Katrina to the debate over overhauling the nation's health care system.
Before coming to NPR, Shapiro spent 19 years at U.S. News & World Report, as a Senior Writer on social policy and served as the magazine's Rome bureau chief, White House correspondent, and congressional reporter.
Among honors for his investigative journalism, Shapiro has received an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, George Foster Peabody Award, George Polk Award, Robert F. Kennedy Award, Edward R. Murrow Award, Sigma Delta Chi, IRE, Dart, Ruderman, and Gracie awards, and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Award.
Shapiro is the author of the award-winning book NO PITY: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement (Random House/Three Rivers Press), which is widely read in disability studies classes.
Shapiro studied long-term care and end-of-life issues as a participant in the yearlong 1997 Kaiser Media Fellowship in Health program. In 1990, he explored the changing world of people with disabilities as an Alicia Patterson Foundation fellow.
Shapiro attended the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Carleton College. He's a native of Washington, DC, and lives there now with his family.
NPR's Investigative Unit teamed up with The Marshall Project to look at a penitentiary in Thomson, Ill., that is one of the country's most violent and dangerous federal prisons.
Federal prisoners said to be the most dangerous are sent to a special unit at an Illinois penitentiary. NPR and The Marshall Project have uncovered violence, abuse and a string of inmate deaths there.
New York City officials announced the city will no longer take all Social Security checks from children to pay for foster care. Last year NPR and The Marshall Project investigated the common practice.
In every state, governments charge parents for the cost of foster care when children are taken away. When that happens, NPR found, poor parents can't make ends meet, so families are kept apart longer.
Congress told the Transportation Security Administration and airlines in 2018 to improve air travel for people with disabilities. But TSA data and stories from flyers suggest little has improved.
When kids age out of foster care, they face high rates of unemployment and homelessness. An NPR investigation finds that many of these youths were entitled to federal funds that could have helped.
Many kids in foster care are entitled to Social Security benefits. An investigation by NPR and The Marshall Project found some states take the checks, and use private consultants to find the money.
In at least 36 states and the District of Columbia, child welfare agencies use a child's benefit checks to offset the cost of foster care, often leaving them with a tattered safety net as adults.
During a pandemic, doctors make hard choices about who gets care. Federal law says they can't rule out someone based on disability or age. But some worry the decisions are made behind closed doors.
In an Oregon hospital, a disabled woman fought for her life as her friends and advocates pleaded for proper care. Her case raises the question: Are disabled lives equally valued during a pandemic?