Joseph Shapiro Joseph Shapiro is a NPR News Investigations correspondent.
Joe Shapiro
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Joseph Shapiro

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Joe Shapiro
Wanyu Zhang /NPR

Joseph Shapiro

Correspondent, NPR Investigations

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.

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Story Archive

Trump Reverses Education Secretary DeVos' Plans To Cut Funding For Special Olympics

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Caissie Levy performs as Elsa in the stage adaptation of Frozen, which opened on Broadway in 2018. Deen van Meer/Disney Theatrical Productions hide caption

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For Many With Disabilities, 'Let It Go' Is An Anthem Of Acceptance

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Remembering George H.W. Bush, A Champion For People With Disabilities

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Mary Kathleen "Kathy" Tyler, an 82-year-old woman incarcerated at Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville, was sentenced to life in prison in 1978. She is an avid reader, artist and pianist; is employed as a court reporter; and has accumulated a handful of degrees since she was incarcerated. Jessica Earnshaw for NPR hide caption

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In Iowa, A Commitment To Make Prison Work Better For Women

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Iowa Is Trying To Address The Disparity In How Men And Women Are Disciplined In Prison

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Illinois Department of Corrections officers participate in a role-playing exercise during a March training session on working with female inmates, at Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln, Ill. Bill Healy for SJNN hide caption

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In Prison, Discipline Comes Down Hardest On Women

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Craig Blackburn, left; Kyle Kosceilniak, center; and Hannah LaCour, members of the Louisiana delegation of the National Down Syndrome Society, practice their remarks while waiting to meet a Senate staffer. Joseph Shapiro/NPR hide caption

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Teaching Parents Of Kids With Disabilities To Fight Back

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James Meadours delivers the keynote address at a summit in New Jersey to propose reforms to prevent sexual abuse of people with intellectual disabilities. Meadours, a rape survivor with an intellectual disability, travels the country to raise awareness. Joseph Shapiro/NPR hide caption

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States Aim To Halt Sexual Abuse Of People With Intellectual Disabilities

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James Meadours (left), Debbie Robinson and Thomas Mangrum share their stories about sexual assault. Lizzie Chen for NPR; Claire Harbage and Meg Anderson/NPR hide caption

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Lizzie Chen for NPR; Claire Harbage and Meg Anderson/NPR

In Their Own Words: People With Intellectual Disabilities Talk About Rape

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An NPR investigation finds that people with intellectual disabilities suffer one of the highest rates of sexual assault — and that compared with other rape victims, they are even more likely to be assaulted by someone they know. Cornelia Li for NPR hide caption

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From The Frontlines Of A Sexual Assault Epidemic: 2 Therapists Share Stories

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Lyons-Boswick goes to Veterans Courthouse in Newark to have a judge sign off on a warrant she needs to prosecute a sexual assault case. Cassandra Giraldo for NPR hide caption

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How Prosecutors Changed The Odds To Start Winning Some Of The Toughest Rape Cases

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Patricia (from left), Natalie and their mother, Rosemary, sit in their home in Northern California. Natalie, a woman with an intellectual disability, is unable to speak. She couldn't explain what was wrong and doctors couldn't figure out why she was in pain. Talia Herman for NPR hide caption

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'She Can't Tell Us What's Wrong'

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A participant helps Park hang the agenda on the wall at the start of class. Brianna Soukup for NPR hide caption

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For Some With Intellectual Disabilities, Ending Abuse Starts With Sex Ed

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NPR Investigation Finds Hidden Epidemic Of Sexual Assault

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