The Man Who Outgrew His Prison Cell: Confessions of a Bank Robber by Joe Loya is exactly what a memoir should be: a brutally honest account of personal transformation. Out of the dozen or so books I have read since the beginning of the year, this moving autobiographical masterpiece most resembles my own personal journey of crime and redemption. This book hits me more closer to home personally than for example, the Ron Chernow biography of Alexander Hamilton or The Body by Bill Bryson, my other two great reads so far of 2021.
the man who out grew his prison cell is spiritual like just like mine is
All through the pandemic lockdown and all through my life, I am also reading, studying, practicing and experiencing that there is no God in the human scene. How could there be a God intervening in this human life of rape, murder and arson? If there really was a God that played a direct role in human affairs we wouldn’t even have men working in coal mines. Loya seems to find himself in similar circumstances.
Joe Loya’s father Joe Loya, Sr., is a protestant minister and Bible scholar who beat his wife and kids
During Joe Loya, Jr.’s childhood he was a relatively benign soul who started out a sensitive Protestant schoolboy in East Los Angeles. Loya’s worst deviancy as a chiled is that he wanted to convert his Catholic friends to his interpretation of the Bible. Loya Jr. finally saw the hypocrisy of Loya Sr. and when the teenager took all that he could take he stabbed his father in the neck with a knife. At MacClaren Hall for abused children the young Loya is respected and looked up to as a hero for his violent assault upon his dad. His first transformation had begun.
Loya used religion like a drug
From that day on, young Joe Loya only employed his knowledge of religion to scam women and employers. Loya was always a great boyfriend and employee in the beginning of every relationship, but he soon grew tired of honest work in an materialistic authoritarian world. Being a bad guy turned him on and he when he was sentenced to prison for his first robberies, upon his parole he decided to become a more successful bank robber. After a 14 month run robbing approximately 30 banks he is sent back to federal prison for seven years.
In solitary confinement he has a epiphany as to the source of his rage and his next transformation begins.