On the way home from the office today I was stuck in traffic behind a car with a bunch of www.FreeJoeLab.com bumper stickers and the unusual vanity license plate of “PRISMS”. Being curious about this I checked out the web site once I got home. It turns out the site is about Joe Labriola a highly decorated Marine who served two tours in Vietnam. He is currently serving a life sentence in Massachusetts and has published a book of his poetry entitled “Prisms of War”.
After reading everything on that web site tonight, I can only say that it certainly appears there may have been an injustice done to Joe Labriola . However, the site does not contain much in the way of evidence to back up the claims of injustice. If the 1973 trial transcript was posted in its entirety it would help but there is only one page available there. I searched around a bit with Google but there is very little at other spots on the net about Joe. There is one poem on a guys My Space page, and mentions in newsletters from two political groups, MIM Notes 1997 and, MASSRAIL 1999.
If any law students happen to read this post please check out his site, I think Joe’s case would make a good project for you. I can strongly recommend that everyone read the articles on www.FreeJoeLab.com many are very sad or troubling making them a tough read but they are all informative and thought provoking so I feel it is well worth the effort.
One Reply to “Who's Joe Lab?”
I just saw this entry, Paul. Thanks for speaking out.
I maintain Joe’s web site. Your desire to see his transcript is hard to accommodate. It would take more hours than we can manage to digitize the hundreds of pages.
The injustice that we get emotional about is admittedly slightly diffuse — Joe has had a number of appeals, and one was heard by the Mass. Supreme Court — but some of the early appeals were flawed, and the Supreme Court issue may be too far-reaching in its implications. So Joe has not been grossly ignored or mistreated by the court system per se.
But we contend that the original trial was conducted in a prejudicial atmosphere and that the main witness (a police detective) lied. It is legally too late to appeal the trial conditions, and we cannot prove that the detective lied. So we are left with the wrongful conviction and unspeakably long imprisonment of a man who was not guilty of the crime. And we get emotional.
We don’t understand how the conditions of Joe’s original trial were permitted, nor how the jury could reach its verdict with virtually no evidence. We suspect coercion of a potentially sympathetic witness. We suspect the withholding of evidence that did not accord with the prosecution’s claims.
But absent further revelations that this web site might provoke, Joe Labriola will never leave his abysmal confines.
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