Joseph Shapiro

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 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 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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The Two-Way
3:36 am
Tue October 2, 2012

Brain-Damaged Man Wins New Trial In Two-Decades-Old Killing

Originally published on Tue October 2, 2012 1:08 pm

Richard Lapointe confessed in 1989 that he stabbed, raped and killed his wife's 88-year-old grandmother two years earlier. But in the 23 years since, experts in criminal justice have come to better understand how sometimes people make false confessions — especially someone with brain damage, like Lapointe. On Monday, Connecticut's state Appellate Court ordered a new trial, saying prosecutors wrongly withheld potentially important evidence.

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The Two-Way
7:07 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

Pistorius Falls To Britain's Peacock In 100 Meters; American Browne Is Second

Bronze medalist Arnu Fourie of South Africa (from left), gold medalist Jonnie Peacock of Great Britain, silver medalist Richard Browne of the United States and Oscar Pistorius of South Africa cross the line in the Men's 100m - T44 Final at London's Olympic Stadium.
Jamie McDonald Getty Images

Originally published on Fri September 7, 2012 6:25 am

In one of the most closely watched events at the London Paralympics, South African Oscar Pistorius failed in his attempt to win the 100-meter sprint and regain his title as the world's fastest amputee today.

Great Britain's Jonnie Peacock took the lead early and kept it, winning in 10.90 seconds, a Paralympic record. American Richard Browne, 21, of Jackson, Miss., won the silver medal.

Pistorius, the double amputee who ran in the Olympics this year, came in fourth. He finished in 11.17 seconds.

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The Two-Way
4:23 pm
Wed September 5, 2012

Oscar Pistorius Seeks Redemption In Race To Be The World's Fastest Amputee

In a surprise finish, Brazil's Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira (left) races past South Africa's Oscar Pistorius to win a gold medal in the 200-meter race at the 2012 London Paralympic Games.
Emilio Morenatti AP

Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 6:43 am

One of the best stories of the London Olympics was Oscar Pistorius running for South Africa on his prosthetic legs. His fight to make the Olympic team brought new attention to sports for people with disabilities. And the attention also brought new competitors — who now are vying with Pistorius to claim the title of world's fastest amputee.

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Sports
5:12 pm
Tue August 28, 2012

Debate Pits Strasburg's Health Against Wins

Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals pitches against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park last week.
Patrick McDermott Getty Images

Originally published on Tue August 28, 2012 8:52 pm

One of the biggest debates in Washington, D.C., these days has nothing to do with taxes, health care or the economy. It's about baseball and whether the Washington Nationals should end the season of their young pitching star, Stephen Strasburg, just as the team may be headed for the playoffs.

Two years ago, Strasburg's promising career was threatened when he tore a ligament in his pitching arm. He needed surgery and couldn't pitch for a year.

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Human Tissue Donation
3:33 am
Thu July 19, 2012

The Seamy Side Of The Human Tissue Business

Michael Mastromarino (center) appeared in a New York City courtroom for sentencing on charges of corruption, body stealing and reckless endangerment, as the mastermind behind a scheme to loot hundreds of corpses and sell bone and tissue for transplants.
Jesse Ward AP

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 8:01 am

Part 4 in a four-part series

The human tissue industry has created medical advances for millions of Americans. Tissue taken from cadavers is turned into medical products for the living. A tendon can be used to repair a torn ACL. Veins are used in heart bypass operations. Bone can be turned into plates and screws. They look like something you'd find in a hardware store, but these get used to mend a broken leg. It's a $1 billion-a-year industry that attracts the altruistic, but sometimes the greedy.

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Human Tissue Donation
2:43 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

Am I A Tissue Donor, Too?

Organ and tissue donation forms vary from state to state. Some are very general, while others allow people to choose or restrict what they want to donate.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 9:20 pm

Part 3 in a four-part series

Maybe you've agreed to be an organ donor. There might be something on your driver's license — a red heart, a pink dot or the word "Donor" — to show it. That also means you've very likely agreed — even if you don't realize it — to donate more than just your organs.

I know that I'm an organ donor. I signed up years ago, when I renewed my driver's license. But I had no idea that I'd also signed up to donate my tissue. That is, until Laura Siminoff, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University's medical school, explained it to me.

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Human Tissue Donation
4:03 am
Wed July 18, 2012

Little Regulation Poses Problems Tracking Tissue

Unlike organs, tissue doesn't need to be transplanted immediately. Storage facilities like Tissue Banks International in San Rafael, Calif., process and store donated tissue for later use in medical products or as transplants.
Noah Berger AP

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 9:16 pm

Part 2 of a four-part series

Two winters ago, Lynnette Bellin tore her knee while skiing with her 5-year-old daughter.

"I felt the trademark pop ... and instantly knew I had injured my knee," she says.

But within a year, she was back to her athletic life.

"Recently in one week, I skied, ran, kayaked, standup paddle-boarded, swam and hiked. At the end of that week, I looked back in awe from where I have come from," she says.

Bellin healed quickly after receiving a tendon from a cadaver, which helped to repair her torn ACL.

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NPR News Investigations
12:48 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

Calculating The Value Of Human Tissue Donation

Chris Truitt holds a photo of his daughter, Alyssa, who died when she was 2, at his home in De Forest Wis. After donating her organs and tissues, he decided on a career change that made him rethink tissue donation.
Narayan Mahon for NPR

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 9:11 pm

Part 1 of a four-part series

The story of how Chris Truitt went from being a tissue industry insider to an industry skeptic starts with a family tragedy.

In 1999, his 2-year-old daughter, Alyssa, died of a sudden health complication. Truitt and his wife, Holly, donated their daughter's organs and tissue, which saved the life of another young girl, Kaylin Arrowood.

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Sports
3:01 pm
Wed July 4, 2012

Baseball's Teen Phenom Steals Home, And Hearts

Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper walks out of the clubhouse before an interleague baseball game in Baltimore.
Patrick Semansky AP

Originally published on Wed July 4, 2012 4:03 pm

Bryce Harper was 16 when he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, pictured swinging a bat in the desert and declared "Baseball's Chosen One."

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Shots - Health Blog
11:13 am
Wed June 13, 2012

Disabled Woman Dies While Awaiting Second Chance At Kidney Transplant

Misty Cargill and her boyfriend, Mike Bishop, in 2006.
Duncan Group Homes

At Misty Cargill's funeral, the minister called her an advocate for other people with intellectual disabilities. She was — although a reluctant one.

Cargill became an advocate when NPR did a story about her fight to get a life-saving kidney transplant. Misty, 30, died in her sleep on Saturday. She was on a list to get that transplant when she died.

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Shots - Health Blog
4:13 pm
Mon May 21, 2012

Katie Beckett Defied The Odds, Helped Other Disabled Kids Live Longer

Katie Beckett fits herself with a vibrating vest that helps clear mucous from her lungs. A nurse comes over to her apartment in Cedar Rapids to help her do this twice a day. On the wall to the right are pictures of Katie as a child with Ronald Reagan. This story starts twenty-nine years ago with an angry President Ronald Reagan. <> We just recently received word of a little girl who has spent most of her life in a hospital. <> The little girl in the hospital was three-year-old Katie Beckett. Because of a brain infection, she needed to be hooked to a ventilator at night to breathe. Her parents wanted her home. Her doctors said she'd be better off at home. And it'd be cheaper, too: Just one-sixth the cost.
John Poole NPR

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 10:46 am

A few years ago, I asked a 13-year-old girl who was receiving care for cystic fibrosis on a Medicaid program known as the "Katie Beckett waiver" if she knew who Katie Beckett was. "Probably some kind of doctor," the girl said.

It was a logical guess. But Beckett was another child with a significant disability, and she changed health care policy for hundreds of thousands of other children with complex medical needs. On Friday, Beckett, at age 34, died in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, of complications from her disability.

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Post Mortem: Death Investigation In America
5:00 am
Thu March 29, 2012

New Evidence In High-Profile Shaken Baby Case

Shirley Ree Smith sits in the living room of her daughter's upstairs duplex in Alexandria, Minn. Smith is waiting to hear if California Gov. Jerry Brown will grant her clemency. "They say things happen for a reason. I'm not sure if I'll ever figure out a reason for all of this," she says.
Courtney Perry for NPR

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 4:31 pm

A senior pathologist in the Los Angeles County coroner's office has sharply questioned the forensic evidence used to convict a 51-year-old woman of shaking her 7-week-old grandson to death, identifying a host of flaws in the case.

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Post Mortem: Death Investigation In America
4:06 pm
Mon March 5, 2012

Free, But Not Cleared: Ernie Lopez Comes Home

Ernie Lopez hugs his daughter, Nikki Lopez, for the first time since 2009. Ernie was released from prison on March 2 in Amarillo, Texas, after nine years, while he awaits a new trial.
Katie Hayes Luke Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 10:58 am

Ernie Lopez calls it his "rebirth." After spending nearly nine years in prison for the sexual assault of a 6-month old girl, a top Texas court threw out the conviction. And on Friday, the 41-year-old Lopez walked out of the detention center in Amarillo, Texas, where family and friends were waiting.

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