I wrote a memoir about my childhood, my descent into crime, my experiences as a criminal and prisoner, and my eventual rise out of that world into yours again. My life is literally an open book. Today I love to talk about crime and heist films and about how we can turn our stories into art if we look at them as changeable things. I totally dig thinking about how prison prepared me to be a dad. I robbed 30 banks (4 in one day once) so I didn't suck at it. But I am a better father and I like to talk about why all that craziness prepared me for all of this -- the writing, acting, TV commentator, etc. Let's treat my life like a text, so go ahead and ask me anything.

Thank you all for joining me here. I had a great time. I hope I answered your questions smartly. Closing up now. Peace out.

Proof: http://i.imgur.com/kMbly6M.jpg

Comments: 169 • Responses: 65  • Date: 

SyrupCSGO17 karma

Where's the rest of the money. And why can't I have it?

JoeLoya16 karma

I robbed near a quarter million bucks in 14 months back in 1988-89, and had approximately $12 grand when I was arrested. It was gone within 6 months.

Jedi_Gill13 karma

How did you manage to burn through so much money in 6 months? 250K in 88-89 was a lot more money than it was now. and even now 250K is quite a bit to spend in 6 months.

JoeLoya22 karma

I didn't use drugs, but I was a total hedonist. I three cars. All my suits, and there were many, were all tailor made. I spent a ton of money on friends. I'd take them to Vegas, pay their way, give them spending money. i play golf five six times a week, bought friend clubs and lunch all day long. I purchased ten or 15 concert tickets and took friends to restaurants on Melrose before the show. I was a punk, raised poor so wanted to live extravagantly.

IGrammarGood9 karma

What cars did you own?

JoeLoya20 karma

Mazda RX-7. Mercedes. BMW 733i. Nothing wild.

TonyPow3 karma

your the man

JoeLoya13 karma

No TonyPow....You're the Man! Okay, I am too. Thanks.

SAE18563 karma

Sounds like most drug dealers I know. Except that they use drugs too.

JoeLoya12 karma

Yeah, we like to live grandiose lives. Not content with who we are so we buy all these accessories to play up our status. Psychology 101. Kind of embarrassing that our insecurity is so textbook that we end up becoming cliches.

gdaman2212 karma

Who were the best and worst figures you met while in prison?

JoeLoya23 karma

This is one of the best questions I have ever been asked. I met this guy named Cuffy, a Rastafarian. All the guys I looked up to respected Cuffy. He knew that we knew the same people, so one day he comes to my cell with a letter envelope turned into a bowl full of tortilla chips. "Here you go Joe. I did time with your homeboy Dagwood, and we used to bust out canteen for each other when one of us came up." He was super ethical and friendly and as I grew up in prison I modeled my best self after Cuffy's kind of honor. The worst figure, the guy who lied to the FBI and said he saw me by my ex-cellmates cell before he was murdered. I spent nearly two years in solitary confinement before I was proved to not have ben involved because that guy was desperate to be transferred from the prison.

Jedi_Gill12 karma

Did you kill anyone in any of your heists..? If so how has that affected you.. If not.. did you ever think of the ramifications if you had to.?

JoeLoya21 karma

Never killed anyone during a heist. Never pulled a gun. Only ever thought I would be shot in during a heist. I threatened to kill tellers but only to terrorize them. The gun I carried in my backpack was for me to protect myself. I look back on that way of thinking and I cringe at my stupidity. People could have definitely been hurt and shot because I was desperate, which is why i was robbing in the first place.

mz98146 karma

what made you desperate?

JoeLoya15 karma

This a good but challenging question. I would have to give a Forensic Psychology course to get to the deepest answer, but let me give it a brief try. Sometimes when I work with people now and I want to help them see that there is another way, I can see in their eyes that they CAN'T believe me, like something is blocking them. Like in that scene in The Exorcist where they go to check on the demon possessed girl and they find scrawled on her flesh from the inside, HELP ME. There is a way in which we don't understand why we are acting the way we act and so we just run full force into walls, damaging ourselves but not knowing how to stop. It sounds crazy but that is what I mean by desperate. I had to do what I was doing and couldn't stop. Like driven by some insane compulsion.

mz98143 karma

makes sense, our minds are powerful things

JoeLoya2 karma

The mind really is a powerful thing. It can confuse us and it can lead us out of the maze.

helpthebear10 karma

How do you feel knowing that a lot of bankers who committed fraud and trashed the economy got away with no consequences, while you did time?

JoeLoya24 karma

I actually did time on a solitary confinement tier with Charles Keating who was the famous Savings and Loan swindler of my era. His crime cost society billions of dollars and he served less than 5 1/2 years and got to keep millions because he had bought off senators. Some bank robbers on that tier had robbed two banks and made $600 and were serving 20 years. So on the tier we gave him the blues every time he went to the showers. Asking him questions like, "Is that all you back there or did you just get a new wallet?" Yeah, it ays more to rob banks with a pen than with a gun, everybody knows that.

HighRegard9 karma

How exactly did you rob the banks?

JoeLoya17 karma

My first bank was a note robbery. After that I just demanding the money with some threats. A few times I walked the manager into the vault. All those times I never pulled a gun. My rage was pretty menacing and convincing.

JustMarvin8 karma

How would you describe the experience of your first robbery?

JoeLoya10 karma

I attempted to rob my first bank at 10 am one San Diego morning. I was scared shitless. I walked in and out of banks all day before getting up the courage to approach a teller. Finally at 4:45 pm, I walked into a bank and passed a note, and finally managed to scare the teller out of approximately $4500, then raced out the bank and was chased, but got away. The first bank robbery, like pretty much all firsts in general, is always the most embarrassing.

evlgns8 karma

First thanks for doing the AMA very interesting. Secondly have you ever had any contact with the victims of your robberies since ? Ie: tellers , managers of the banks.

Mostly I ask because I'm sure this would be traumatizing in some manner and you obviously regret this about the crimes.

JoeLoya19 karma

You know, people ask this question a lot. You hit on something really smart. I took my life into their sphere uninvited and the intersection of my volatility with their calm lives was something that I regret and I'm sure traumatized them. Over the years people have heard me speak and come up to me afterwards and told me that they were once robbed when they worked in a bank. And it traumatized them badly. So the last thing I want to do is track down these people and say, "Hey, I'm back. Can you forgive me? Let's deal with all my shit again without regard for your emotional safety." If someone reads my story or sees the documentaries about my life then they will see that I regret the harm I caused the tellers and managers. If they want to reach out to me I would merely listen to every horrible thing they would want to say to me and I would apologize humbly. In that moment I would give them their turn.

evlgns7 karma

That's a great answer and really shows your intelligence and growth as a person , I'm sure if one of them was to read your reply it would be of some comfort to them to realize that the person that committed the crimes is long gone and a new better version has taken his place and is doing good.

Thanks again for doing the AMA and the great reply.

JoeLoya9 karma

This is exactly why I wanted to do this AMA. To get to these sort of honest interactions. I meant what I said, you asked a great question. And you're welcome.

on957 karma

are you just making money off your book/movie royalties or do you do have a side job / 9-5 job? Relative to the 250k you stole from banks, how long would it take you now to make that much money?

Also, how long did you spend in prison?

JoeLoya4 karma

I was in prison twice. 22 months the first time. 7 years the second time. I write professionally and charge people approximately in one hour what it would cost someone to get a real good massage. I also am trying to get work in Hollywood which two years of writing there would get me the same as my 14 month bank robbery spree. Two low level movie scripts would earn me the same as my crime spree too.

tditd7 karma

How much planning goes into robbing a bank?

JoeLoya8 karma

Depends. Somefriends I had robbed armored cars coming out or going into banks. They planned for a long time and used surveillance technology. Me, I drove around a bank once to make sure a cop wasn't parked around the block. I liked to rob banks near freeways, but that was about that.

Caramelizer7 karma

The 80's seem to be the best time in history to rob banks. Has bank robbing gotten much more difficult over time due to more technology, or is it still just as easy?

JoeLoya10 karma

I couldn't say whether bank robbery is just as easy or more difficult today. I know that I was captured by new technology at the time, barely imported into California. It was a tracking device in the money that allowed the police to identify my car as holding the money and pull me over 7 miles from the bank. So technology certainly aids the FBI in tracking bank robbers. BUt I got arrested and quickly spread the word about the technology so there is always only a short time that they can surprise us.

NekoQT7 karma

Okay how many puns did you have to hear about you needing a "loya"??

Think sort of boston accent of "Lawyer"

JoeLoya14 karma

Listen, it got real bad when I actually spent time in prisons outside Boston. I dig my Massachusetts friends but they will beat a metaphor and pun to death in that state, all day long. The Boston words that got me were guard and God. I thought they were saying the same thing.

1800BOTLANE6 karma

If you could give a young-adult advice, what is the one piece you'd give?

JoeLoya9 karma

I like to offer young kids advice on how to channel their energies into being creative with their communication to us, the world, the society that they are joining and sometimes feel hostile toward. Juvenile halls and prisons are full of young people who communicated their grievances to society in the most violent blunt way. I like youngsters to know that there is a better way, one that empowers their voice.

mealbudget5 karma

Tell us a little about the writing journey. Did you have anyone from the publishers help you, or did you have a completed manuscript to hand up? What was your biggest challenge in writing about all of your times, good and bad?

JoeLoya8 karma

I started writing my life stories in solitary confinement which began 3 1/2 years into my 8 year sentence. So when I got out I had a lot of stuff written. I had a pen pal relationship with the essayist Richard Rodriguez who convinced me I was a writer, so when I got out he introduced me to his editor at the Pacific News Service, and they promptly published an op-ed of mine in the San Francisco Examiner. Within 9 months my op-eds started showing up in the LA Times then my writing career took off with publishers contacting me. I sold my memoir 4 years later.

WTRXGamer5 karma

What are your legal limits now? E.g. what are you allowed and not allowed to do/own because of robbing banks?

JoeLoya2 karma

I got out of prison 18 years ago so I have no limits on me now. I guess, not being able to own a gun is the only limit but that doesn't affect me at all. I'm not a hunter and I never needed a gun in prison to defend myself, so I'm fine.

WolvesPWN5 karma

I'm not planning on robbing any banks, but, when you DID rob banks, did it give you like, an adrenaline rush? Did you feel powerful, even more than the cops? Just curious.

JoeLoya7 karma

Man, you hit the nail on the head. Most of my friends who robbed banks were dope fiends so they were motivated to get money as fast for their next fix. So they'd go in their drunk or high. Me, I enjoyed getting paid for the adrenaline rush. In fact, when I gave up crime I wondered if I would need to jump out of airplanes or bungee jump to replace that urge for the rush. Turns out, living a good life was risky enough.

lightning875 karma

Was there any sort of tranquility to planning a bank robbery that you intending on fulfilling?

I always have loved trying to plan out how I would rob certain banks but never had the intrest to actually do it.

JoeLoya6 karma

Brilliant question. I write movie scripts and TV pilots sometimes, I think, because I enjoy writing out the crimes and having characters fulfill them. I do enjoy looking at the world and inventing creative ways to get over, so to speak. It is one of the benefits of writing. 'Peace' isn't the word I would use. But I would use the words "quiet pleasures" for writing out the plots.

lightning872 karma

Thanks for the reply!

JoeLoya1 karma

You're welcome.

NorbitGorbit4 karma

which banks would you be afraid to rob the most? which banks would you be afraid to rob the least?

JoeLoya10 karma

When I was robbing banks, I was fearless. I robbed a bank with a guard at the door. I once robbed a bank and was so pissed off with the little money I'd got that I walked right next door into another bank even though I knew cops were on the way. So it's not about the type of banks. It about the type of bank robbery energy I brought in to them. Nothing dissuaded me. Today I wouldn't rob any banks because I don't have the requisite rage to not give a fuck. I would panic and pee on myself before I got to the tellers and no amount of adult diapers could help.

volantits4 karma

I would panic and pee on myself before I got to the tellers

Today there's an ATM everywhere. Don't wet yourself getting to the teller anymore.

JoeLoya2 karma


volantits4 karma

You feel you have been rehabilitated?

Are you a changed man, how?

JoeLoya7 karma

This question may derive from the film Shawshank Redemption, but it works for me. And it is a fine question in this context. So yes, I'd say I am rehabilitated. I have been in society living amiably with my neighbors for 18 years. I have a wife who will readily admit doesn't fear me, thinks I am a good man. My brother and father who knew me best as a troubled boy would tell you that they barely recognize the patient peaceful man I have become, so different am I from my criminal years. I have long term friendships which demonstrates that I know how to function in healthy emotional ways. And I am a loving father working hard to raise a conscientious person who will enter society and treat all of you decently.

Caramelizer3 karma

What big projects are you currently working on?

JoeLoya2 karma

I'm working on TV or web crime pilots. And I'm writing a book about being a dad to a daughter. And I help people edit their work so sometimes I'm editing other people's books or dissertations for money.

tonibab13 karma

Where did you do time?

JoeLoya2 karma

CRC in California while I kept going out to court to fight other cases. I was arrested on 5 warrants in 5 counties. I also did time in Lompoc Penitentiary, Lewisburg, and at Norfolk Mens Prison in Massachusetts. I spent weeks at Phoenix and Oklahoma City fed joints while in transit.

darwiniananswer3 karma

Isn't there some kind of law against making money off of your crimes?

JoeLoya8 karma

Yes, in some states. Not here. In fact, Bill O'Reilly thinks it is a horrible thing but when he asked me to be on his show and talk about what was going to happen to Scott Peterson when he got to Death Row, O'Reilly and his producers agreed to promote my book. So some people feel bad that ex-criminals can make money off they're crimes, but they really like the stories and insight we have after the fact. Truth is, I feel like I don't make money off my crimes as much as I make money off my life story which is a lot more than the 14 month crime spree.

arturoXmatador3 karma

Hi Joe...If you had to do time in solitary..what 3 book would you take with you ?

JoeLoya3 karma

Damn, this is a mighty fine queston. 1) Ulysses by James Joyce, 2) Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais, and 3) One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Jisamaniac3 karma

How long were you in prison for and what advice do you have for other confused youths in their 20s?

JoeLoya3 karma

I served 2 years once and 7 years the second time. It's a complicated question about advice to confused 20-somethings, and I answered elsewhere, but basically I'd say they need to find a creative way to express their feelings because there is so much grievance in youngsters and I believe they need to find a healthy outlet for their voice.

pull_the_other_13 karma

If everybody lived like you did - what do you think the world would be like?

JoeLoya2 karma

If everybody lived like I did back then in my criminal days, the world would look exactly like it looks in all the war torn anarchic spots around the globe. I always say, I was desperate, confused and rage-filled and without conscience. I do not glamorize those years.

pull_the_other_12 karma

What could you do differently in your remaining years - so that if everybody lived how you did - that the good would more than make up for the bad?

JoeLoya2 karma

Good question. I feel like raising my daughter with love and security and decency, with a real sense of unity with society, is some mighty concrete good I am putting into the world. Real definitive rippling of good into the future to impact people, that can regenerate itself. My daughter's community will take that good energy and let it ripple through them into their relationships, and so on. I can write a bunch of text about change and I can speak to crowds of folks like I often do, and to good effect, but all that is abstraction. The power of influencing a life that lives with me and sees me move in the world with this new ethic will always be a more dense, textured and impactful experience, and so can have lasting positive effect on the planet. My daughter will come in contact with so many folks and carry knowledge that I pass on to her about what I have learned about how to live decently. This I believe will mitigate, or compensate for, the bad energy I shoved into the world all those years ago.

redyellowand3 karma

Soooo...how did prison prepare you to be a dad?

JoeLoya3 karma

Truth is, that prison prepared for me in many ways to be a dad. Because there are many stages to daddyhood. In the beginning, my sleep was interrupted all the time. In prison, guards walk by your cell every night with their keys jangling, tapping on some steel bars to wake guys up to go to work early (like 2 am) in the chow hall, so I never once got a full night of sleep. I just learned to cope. My wife on the other hand, did not serve prison time and I saw that she had no reference experience to draw from. Being sleep deprived as a father was kind of a breeze because of prison. I just went back into prison mode.

DisconcertedLiberal3 karma

Did avoiding the police make you constantly paranoid?

JoeLoya9 karma

When I got out on bail I robbed five more banks so the FBI was looking for me in earnest. They knew I golfed a lot so when a helicopter would fly over the gold course I was playing on, I’d right away hide under trees. If I was driving and I saw a helicopter, I’d try to find an underground parking structure. A helicopter tracked down the transmitter in my money the first time I was arrested for bank robbery, so they had me spooked. When I was finally arrested again, and taken downtown, I recall hearing a helicopter outside and my whole body panicked, until I realized that I was probably not going to have to worry about helicopters for 7 years and I got to tell you, I was sorta grateful that I they'd locked me up. One of the ironies of my life.

TheKillerPupa3 karma

What was in the safe?

JoeLoya4 karma

I'll come back in a few months and answer that question..... Actually, In one safe I robbed bricks of cash which ended up being four bricks of 1s and one of 5s. I couldn't see what they were because they were covered in cardboard. Each brick was a thousand bills. I paid all my tips for the rest of my crime spree with those bills and if think I loaned people $400 or $500 in 5s a couple times. Another time I got $32,000 from a vault.

Zhaang3 karma

What's your most interesting story?

JoeLoya9 karma

I once robbed a bank where the teller didn't even let me finish my spiel. She simply opened the drawer and started handing me the money, big bills first. I wanted to tell her to slow down or the FBI would think we were in cahoots, that she'd been waiting for me to come all day to pretend rob her. That still makes me scratch my head.

Dajove6 karma

Good guy bankrobber...

JoeLoya5 karma

Don't get me wrong. I took the money and ran. I wasn't so good that I walked away so she didn't get in trouble. I was serious about my thievery. But that robbery was one of those odd moments where I wonder what she was thinking. She didn't act scared. She acted almost like it was some sort of Groundhog Day and she was already prepared for this replay of events. Like she didn't take it personal and she didn't seem phased.

Dajove2 karma

Probably all she was thinking was 'I don't want to die so I'll give this guy everything he wants'

JoeLoya4 karma

She seemed seasoned at the whole thing, that's for sure. But she really didn't let me finish my bank robber spiel, and she handed me all the large bills first, like didn't even try to slow me down. I encountered so many tellers who mostly gave me the money passive aggressively, delaying me in various ways (slowly opening a locked money drawer, giving me small bills first, making me reach for the money instead of passing it to me, even twice handing me exploding dye packs), so this encounter was super unusual.

Dajove2 karma

Yeah I understand but I think that I personally would be so shocked and scared that I'd just do anything to please 'you'

JoeLoya2 karma

True. She did right. She got me out of there faster than any other teller, that's for sure.

d5blokes3 karma

So what role has education played in your life? How has learning changed throughout the son/robber/prisoner/dad phases of your life? What kind of teacher has all of this made you? - sean.

JoeLoya7 karma

I was raised by an autodidact. My dad taught himself so much. Then eventually went to university and studied philosophy and the classics, translating Greek and Hebrew and Latin along the way. I attended private Christian schools, so I learned all the redemption stories early. But I was all brain. I wanted to be a man of action. So at age 16 during a vicious beating by my dad, I stabbed him in the neck with a steak knife. He lived, but in that moment everything I'd learned from him became dubious. I was now released to find truths that could trump the beliefs he had passed on to me. So I rejected his timid moralities and went into crime. Turns out that years later it would be the education he provided me that was my ticket out of crime. Even though I mocked all that early learning, pops had created in me a thirst and curiosity to seek meaning in things. So in solitary confinement I began to explore what all my choices in life meant. The stories of redemption gave me a narrative scaffolding to hang my story on. So while today I don't believe in the God of my father, I believe in creating curiosity in my daughter, and I work hard to give her stories that later she can use as metaphors. That way if she ever gets stuck in a bind after I am gone, she will at least have an urge to figure her shit out and also some tools.

unionlind3 karma

How old are your children? Do they know about your robbing days? When did you meet your wife and was she a bit weary about you at first?

JoeLoya8 karma

Love where your head is at. Nice questions. I have an 8 year old daughter. Last year my wife and I sat with her and told her that I used to rob banks, and that's why she has seen me on TV, or why I go speak at universities, and what my book is about. Her first question was, "Did you have to pee in a pot?" I told her that No, her daddy didn't serve time in an 18th century French prison. She got the idea that people in prison pee in pots from the kid's cartoon show, Phineas and Ferb. And my wife met me after I'd already published my op-eds in the LA Times, and Dan Rather's 48Hours show had asked me to do a video essay for them, so she understood my previous life in terms of my public persona and the way I now discussed criminal justice issues on TV and in print.

gad-gada3 karma

So, how do I become the bank robber? Do I need special qualifications or just go for it?

JoeLoya7 karma

Typically you only need to be confused, desperate and full of rage, and in dire need to getting your next fix.

CosmicLemon3 karma

Would you still be robbing banks if you hadn't been caught?

JoeLoya7 karma

Tough to say. I answered earlier that "if" questions stump me. In prison when a guy would arrive and breakdown his arrest and then turn philosophical about maybe if he had turned right instead of left he might be home eating a sundae instead of doing time with us. The collective reply by seasoned convicts was "Yeah well if your grandma had a dick she'd be your grandpa." Crude and unsympathetic, I know, but it speaks to the folly of contemplating outcomes in an alternate universe.

UMeanCoitus2 karma

Hey there, thanks for the AM. Do you feel that just being locked up is enough to deter repeat offenders, does it need to be made harder, or do we need to improve how we treat offenders? Also, seriously, do the guards protect offenders from being preyed upon, or are you on your own? Thanks.

JoeLoya3 karma

Being locked up does not deter offenders in general, especially the first few times someone's locked up. Mostly because the offenders like to get high. Most prisoners are in there for getting high or committing low level non-violent property offenses (tagging), or for selling drugs to people who want to get high. These should not be crimes. Then all of a sudden we don't need prisons for 75% of the population in there right now. Plus, sending so many people to prison has had the unintended consequence of turning going to prison into a badge of honor. It is a warped ethos, but we now have it because we sent so many young men there during their impressionable years. Also, guards do not protect prisoners well, normally. They mostly couldn't give a shit.

Yeltsin862 karma

Do you think that having been in prison has helped you, or society, in any way?

JoeLoya2 karma

This is a fantastic question because I think the answer is complicated. Obviously prison provided me an occasion to settle down and recognize that I did not want to live in prison for the rest of my life. Personally, we can talk about how that change has allowed for me to come out here and inspire other folks to imagine changing their lives. I conduct writing workshops in men and women's prisons and I get to help them process their issues. But the other truth, paradoxically, is that society pays a huge toll for the way they incarcerate people. Society benefits from me learning to manage my rage and come out here and talk about the power of radical change. On the other hand, families are torn apart and the cycle of incarceration is multiplied because we send people to prison for huge amounts of time for basically liking to get high. Stupid policy. I get why I had to go away. I carried a gun into banks albeit hidden and tucked into my belt, and I never pulled it, and I threatened to harm people if they didn't pay me. I was a true menace. But 75% of people in prison are in there for nonviolent offenses. That does not help society.

KiaiTheCat2 karma

At any point before you were caught, did you suspect the authorities knew who you were?

Did the thought of leaving the country with your cash (before they got you) ever cross your mind?

When you were robbing banks, was there an inevitability of being caught? What was the end game?

JoeLoya3 karma

Hey, I answered the last three questions in a previous comment but let me answer the one about the authorities. I never suspected that they knew who I was. Then one day I robbed 4 banks in SanDiego and an ex-cellmate from my brief time in the San Diego jail called me and said that the CrimeStopper show that night said they suspected that I lived in Tijuana, and that I was either Pakistani or Indian. I lived in LA and was Mexican so I was relieved that the FBI was that far off base.

keybord2 karma

Looking back, if you knew how your life would turn out as it is today, would you have done anything differently.

JoeLoya3 karma

In prison, when a guy showed up and told his story of how he had been arrested, sometimes they'd get philosophical about it and say stuff like, "Man, if I'd only turned left instead of right, I would be home right now eating a sundae." Every real convict would feel obliged to reply with, "And if your grandma had a dick, she'd be your grandpa." We can't really contemplate seriously an alternate reality with any kind of precision. As much as it is kinda fun.

DonaldFlorzes2 karma

what is your favorite breakfast cereal?

JoeLoya3 karma

Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds.

ShouldBeZZZ2 karma

How would you rob a bank today?

JoeLoya3 karma

I would not rob a bank today. I have a good feel for my future and unlike when I was a rage-filled desperate confused 26 year old, I'm not willing to risk my life.

WTRXGamer2 karma

If I remember correctly, I saw you on a TV show "I almost got away" or something like that. What was it like working with them to tell your story?

JoeLoya7 karma

One of the producers called me afterward and said they were pressured to do the reenactments with the guy playing me holding a gun during all the bank robberies, even though the producer knew through interviews with the two FBI agents and myself that I had never brandished a gun. I did not like the way they sensationalized my story. Real cheesy. A much smarter documentary about my life, on Netflix, is called PROTAGONIST, by Jessica Yu. I love that storytelling better. More ethical.

jcaseys342 karma

How much money did you make robbing banks?

JoeLoya2 karma

14 month crime spree, robbed approximately 30 banks, and got one quarter of a million dollars (approximately).

jcaseys342 karma

At first that seems like a lot of money but considering you're robbing a bank to get it it really isn't that much, at least in my mind it isn't. Thanks for doing the AMA and being so forthcoming, and I'm glad that you were able to turn your life around.

JoeLoya2 karma

I averaged $8000 a bank. Not much at all. But that's because they were mostly teller robberies. And thanks for appreciating this AMA. I wanted to enlighten, if possible.

iplayavideogame2 karma

Have you ever killed anyone?

JoeLoya1 karma


Dr_Freeman_2 karma

How did your time in prison help you become a better father?

JoeLoya3 karma

In prison you can't sweat time or you'll go crazy. So you don't hang calendars on the wall or time will harass you every day. Like that adage "A watched pot never boils." I learned to make peace with time, and patience is really important as a parent, to not get trapped into the Now, but thinking of the long game, the future, when things will work out over time. Helps to not get stuck.

unic0ne2 karma

Is there anything that happened during your bank robbing days that you carry with you today as a citizen or even as a dad?

JoeLoya3 karma

I was just telling my daughter this morning that when I walked in the world back in my bank robbing days there was certain volatile energy to me. I now walk in the world like on the prison tier too, aware always of people's energy around me. Threat assessment. And not just to run away and hide from people, but also to see how I can move closer to them to see if I can help because often times that energy is disguised pain. I was talking with my daughter about it in terms of how I am always on the lookout how to protect her from colliding with that wildness.

REALpenguin1 karma

Surely when you first got out it was a struggle to get back on your feet. What advice would you offer to someone who is facing that long uphill battle?

JoeLoya3 karma

Find support find support find support. we need people to help us stay focused. We have failed in the past miserably trying to get right in the beginning before we went all the way off track. I had to be humble and rely on my dad and brother for emotional support, and I had friends that I could turn to for moral support. And i found a way to channel my frustrations, and for me that was in the writing. I got angry, I wrote a story in which someone always suffered horribly. Like a Stephen King story where dogs os machines tore shit up. We need to rely on others and channel our anxieties.

JoeLoya2 karma

btw REALpenguin is a cool username.

REALpenguin2 karma

Yeah I guess that means I need to start helping my brother more. He has been out for two years but we are all watching him slip back into bad habits because, frankly, it is just so incredibly daunting to start from scratch at 30. I think he has really given up hope that he can ever recover from his past.

JoeLoya2 karma

I got out of prison when I was 35. a month away from 36. Everyone had given up on me. They now regret that. Your brother will have to confront his life with his imagination. I would tell you that you should imagine that he could change his life drastically and my life is perfect proof of that. I write my story to inspire ex-cons but what I have found is that my story more importantly inspires family members of prisoners and dope fiends who the family feels they have lost forever. I have a friend who was in and out of prison for 28 years. A killer. We got out the same year. 18 years ago. he just finished his dissertation an will be a Dr. in July. Don't give up.

REALpenguin2 karma

Thank you!

JoeLoya1 karma

You're welcome.

Caramelizer1 karma

$250k doesn't seem like a lot of money for you, why go to all that trouble with all that risk?

JoeLoya4 karma

Criminal thinking is ridiculous. Let's get that out of the way. Mostly because criminals act out of compulsion. Which means we do not make decisions based on tomorrow. A lot of that has to do with the fact that we do not have a strong relationship with posterity. We all feel we are going to die early because we are morbid. Either we have seen a lot of people dead by age 16, stood at the grave sites of fallen gang brothers, or have seen a lot of brutality. So our sense of doing things now to have a good future is a foreign concept to us. Impulsive works better. Which hurts us without us knowing it.

FattyMelts-11 karma

Did you get picked on a lot in prison because of your weight, Joesph?

Did anyone get to you yet?

JoeLoya5 karma

I don't know what you are talking about because in prison I ran 90 minutes on the yard and did pushups and pull-ups and was in perfect shape. And 'anyone getting to me yet,' not sure what that means.

FattyMelts-10 karma

I'm talking about that fact that you're fat, Joe.

You were in prison and you don't know that famous saying from one of the greatest prison movies ever made?

It's from the Shawshank Redemption, Joe.

When Boggs asked Andy if anybody got to him yet. Meaning if anyone has tried to rape him yet.

Watch it sometime.

JoeLoya5 karma

Oh I get it now. A lot of prisoners don't think Shawshank Redemption was one of the best prison movies ever made. For us, The Shawshank Redemption is like The Notebook of prison movies.

spazzvogel6 karma

So what movie sir, do the prisoners regard as their favorite, most accurate portrayal?

JoeLoya6 karma

Best prison movie hands down in my opinion is the French film "A Prophet." On Netflix. It is The Godfather of prison movies.