Joseph Shapiro - 2014 i
Kainaz Amaria/NPR
Joseph Shapiro - 2014
Kainaz Amaria/NPR

Joseph Shapiro

Correspondent, NPR Investigations

Joseph Shapiro is a NPR News Investigations correspondent.

In this role, Shapiro takes on long-term reporting projects and covers breaking news stories for NPR's news shows.

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 what critics call "modern day debtors' prisons;" the failure of colleges and universities to punish for on-campus sexual assaults; 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 reporting has generated wide-spread attention to serious issues here and abroad. 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 a duPont Award, a George Foster Peabody Award, a Robert F. Kennedy Award, the Edward R. Murrow Award, Sigma Delta Chi, IRE, Dart and Gracie awards and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Award.

Shapiro is the author of the award-winning 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, D.C., and lives there now with his family.

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Qumotria Kennedy, 36, stands at the baseball field in downtown Biloxi where she worked as a contract maintenance employee. She's a plaintiff in an ACLU lawsuit accusing the city of operating an illegal "debtors' prison." William Widmer/Courtesy of ACLU hide caption

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Jayne Fuentes is one of three plaintiffs in a lawsuit accusing Benton County of having "modern-day debtors' prisons." Courtesy of the ACLU of Washington hide caption

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Using a digital device that displays Braille characters, Haben Girma talks with President Obama at a White House ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. White House photo/Courtesy of Haben Girma hide caption

toggle caption White House photo/Courtesy of Haben Girma

At the State Department conference for people with disabilities, adviser Judy Heumann (center) is surrounded by admirers from around the world. Joseph Shapiro/NPR hide caption

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"This elevator is a gift from the disability community and the ADA to the nondisabled people of New York," says Attorney Wolinsky, who co-founded Disability Rights Advocates. The elevator at the Dyckman Street Subway Station in Inwood, Manhattan, helps people of all abilities reach the platform. Michael Rubenstein for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Michael Rubenstein for NPR

The Americans With Disability Act At 25

In Helping Those With Disabilities, ADA Improves Access For All

Take a tour through New York and you'll see how the 25-year-old Americans with Disabilities Act is benefiting everyone.

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When Sara Garcia's son, Mark, was released from solitary confinement, she also became his unofficial case manager: seeking a psychiatrist, job leads and writing out applications for food stamps. Julia Robinson for NPR hide caption

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Brian Nelson, 50, at his home in Chicago. Five years after he was released from solitary confinement, he says it's still hard to be around people. Peter Hoffman for NPR hide caption

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Edward Brown, who was jailed for not paying fines he couldn't afford, is among 16 plaintiffs in two lawsuits filed against the cities of Ferguson and Jennings, Mo. Joseph Shapiro/NPR hide caption

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Tonya DeBerry (center) and her children, Herbert Nelson and Allison Nelson, have all been held in Ferguson and Jennings jails for unpaid traffic tickets. Joseph Shapiro/NPR hide caption

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McArthur Edwards' driver's license was suspended for two years because he was unable to pay a $64 fine. He's using this bus stop to commute. Joseph Shapiro/NPR hide caption

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