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

"People will not be subject to age or disability discrimination when the going gets tough," Roger Severino, the director of the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, told NPR. Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images hide caption

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Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Masks hang from an IV pole at a hospital. Jenny Kane/AP hide caption

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Jenny Kane/AP

Oregon Hospitals Didn't Have Shortages. So Why Were Disabled People Denied Care?

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Oregon Hospitals Told Not To Withhold Care Because Of A Person's Disability

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Kimberly Conger, Sarah McSweeney's nurse at her group home, shows a photo of McSweeney on her phone. She says McSweeney was outgoing and fun: "She absolutely adored going into malls and getting her makeup done and getting her hair done." Celeste Noche for NPR hide caption

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Celeste Noche for NPR

As Hospitals Fear Being Overwhelmed By COVID-19, Do The Disabled Get The Same Access?

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An American Airlines plane is seen at a gate at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Va., on May 12, 2020. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

John Morris, here in Bogotá, Colombia, has a website called Wheelchair Travel and hosts a travel podcast. Andrea Morris hide caption

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Andrea Morris

A New Rule Means Some People With Wheelchairs Can't Fly On American Airlines

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José spent three months in the hospital being treated for COVID-19. "All of the nurses clapped for me as I was leaving the hospital," he says. But now he faces a long recovery at home. Eddie Quiñones for NPR hide caption

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Eddie Quiñones for NPR

Undocumented With COVID-19: Many Face A Long Recovery, Largely On Their Own

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Undocumented People With No Health Insurance Struggle Especially Hard From COVID-19

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Melissa Hickson says no one asked her husband, Michael, shown here with stepdaughter Mia, if he wanted to keep getting treatment. "He would say: 'I want to live. I love my family and my children ... that's the reason for the three years I have fought to survive,'" she says. Melissa Hickson hide caption

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Melissa Hickson

One Man's COVID-19 Death Raises The Worst Fears Of Many People With Disabilities

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Judy Heumann, a founder of the disability civil rights movement, reflects on the changes ushered in by the Americans with Disabilities Act, three decades after it was signed into law. Joe Shapiro/NPR hide caption

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Joe Shapiro/NPR

One Laid Groundwork For The ADA; The Other Grew Up Under Its Promises

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An evacuee lies on a cot at an evacuation shelter for people with disabilities in Stuart, Fla., in preparation for Hurricane Dorian on Sept. 1, 2019. Now, with the pandemic raging, officials across the South are trying to adjust their evacuation and shelter plans. Gerald Herbert/AP hide caption

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Gerald Herbert/AP

Disaster Relief For The Elderly And Disabled Is Already Hard. Now Add A Pandemic

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Tents are visible behind wire fences last month near buildings of the Federal Medical Center prison in Fort Worth, Texas. Hundreds of inmates inside the facility reportedly have tested positive for the coronavirus, and several have died. LM Otero/AP hide caption

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LM Otero/AP

As COVID-19 Spreads In Prisons, Lockdowns Spark Fear Of More Solitary Confinement

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COVID-19 Infections And Deaths Are Higher Among Those With Intellectual Disabilities

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Protesters Set Fire To Vehicles, Buildings Near White House

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