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 Warseries 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.
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?
People can spend months recovering from COVID-19 and sometimes have lasting disabilities. That is especially hard for undocumented people, who often are in high-risk jobs without health insurance.
There's growing evidence of high rates of death from COVID-19 for a population that doesn't get a lot of attention: people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
As medical providers prepare for the possibility that they may have to ration care, many people with disabilities fear they will get lesser treatment.
On March 13, President Trump promised to mobilize private and public resources to respond to the coronavirus. NPR followed up on each promise and found little action had been taken.
States are preparing guidelines for when there's not enough care to go around. Disability groups are worried that those standards will allow rationing that excludes people with disabilities.
The breakout song from Disney's Frozen has inspired many marginalized groups — but its message of rejecting stigma holds special resonance for disabled people and their families.
Take a tour through New York and you'll see how the 25-year-old Americans with Disabilities Act is benefiting everyone.