Matt Lewis

Joe Loya: The man who outgrew his prison cell

Maybe you worked your way through college. Maybe your dad was a garbage man in Buffalo before you got your break. Maybe you worked at a gas station for five years before landing that dream job… Doesn’t matter. Compared to Joe Loya, you might as well have gone to St. Albans.

Loya’s story, as recounted in his 2004 memoir The Man Who Outgrew His Prison Cell: Confessions of a Bank Robber, puts yours (and mine) to shame. In the years before becoming a journalist, Loya experienced more weirdness than most of us will in an lifetime. Here’s the abbreviated version: Abused? (Yep). Stabbed his dad in the neck with a knife? (He was asking for it). Robbed banks? (Guilty as charged.) Did solitary in the joint? (Check!)

… Oh yeah, in between, he also managed to vote for Ronald Reagan…twice.

Loya and I recently chatted about the memoir — plus his take on Netflix’s Orange is the New Black (he thinks it’s a better depiction of life on the inside than most), his disagreement with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly over Scott Peterson’s life on death row — and much more.

You can listen to streaming audio of our full conversation here.