For the men of Westgate Penitentiary, life is lived on a knife's edge, ruled by violence and fear in a war fought between the guards and the toughest prisoners. Warden A.J. Barden is a weak man who is powerless compared to the chief guard, Captain Munsey, an ambitious and sadistic petty dictator who uses fear and treachery to control the prisoners. Munsey's arch enemy is the charismatic and discontented prisoner Joe Collins, whose girlfriend is unaware that he is in prison and who refuses to have a life saving operation unless he is by her side. Joe's desperation and restlessness is shared by his five cellmates, all of whom found themselves in prison either in spite of or thanks to the love of a woman on the outside.