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.

Story Archive

"This will help a lot of single parents out there," Daisy Hohman, a Minnesota mother whose tax refunds were garnished after her three children were placed in foster care, says of the change in federal guidance. Meg Anderson/NPR hide caption

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Meg Anderson/NPR

The federal government will allow states to stop charging families for foster care

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A guard tower and prison yard at the Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson, Ill., in 2009. Five men have been killed at Thomson since 2019, making the facility one of the deadliest federal prisons in the country. David Greedy/Getty Images hide caption

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The newest federal prison has become one of the deadliest

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Bobby Everson and a letter he wrote to his family while he was incarcerated in the Special Management Unit at the new U.S. penitentiary in Thomson, Ill. Aaron Marin for NPR hide caption

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Aaron Marin for NPR

How the newest federal prison became one of the deadliest

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New York City officials announced the city will no longer take Social Security checks from children to pay for foster care. Gary Hershorn/Getty Images hide caption

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Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

New York City will stop collecting Social Security money from children in foster care

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Daisy Hohman was separated from her three children for 20 months when they were placed in foster care. When Hohman was reunited with her children, she received a bill of nearly $20,000 for foster care from her Minnesota county. Joseph Shapiro/NPR hide caption

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Joseph Shapiro/NPR

States send kids to foster care and their parents the bill — often one too big to pay

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A man using a wheelchair hands his ID to an officer at a security screening checkpoint at Orlando International Airport in 2020. Paul Henness/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images hide caption

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Paul Henness/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Despite calls to improve, air travel is still a nightmare for many with disabilities

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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a motion to make sure foster youth who receive Social Security benefits have access to those checks. County Supervisor Hilda Solis, co-sponsor of the motion, said the new directive is a "game changer." Sarah Reingewirtz/MediaNews Group via Getty Images hide caption

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Sarah Reingewirtz/MediaNews Group via Getty Images

Movement Grows For States To Give Back Federal Funds Owed To Foster Children

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Consultants Help States Find And Keep Money That Should Go To Foster Kids

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Clockwise from top left: Tristen Hunter, Ethan Harvey, Malerie McClusky, Katrina Edwards, Mateo Jaime and Alex Carter. Ash Adams for NPR hide caption

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Ash Adams for NPR

State Foster Care Agencies Take Millions Of Dollars Owed To Children In Their Care

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"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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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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