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Frances White, a product of the slums, escapes the drudgery of life in the tenements by marrying rich gangster Smiley Ryan, thus establishing herself as an idol to be emulated by her younger sister Jennie and the other girls. After her husband is sent to jail, however, Frances tires of the sordid life and leaves him, determined to get a job and support herself. With the help of her former sweetheart, school teacher Johnny Cane, Frances finds employment in the basement of a department store. A short time later, the delinquent girls who had previously stolen small items from the neighborhood stores, have a huge shoplifting haul from Frances' counter. During the getaway, one of the girls who is acting as lookout is killed by an automobile, and Frances is arrested as a material witness because of her questionable past. Johnny, who is the girls' teacher, has tried to instill a sense of integrity in them by instituting an honor system, and consequently, he pleads with them to confess their part in the scheme. They finally agree to confess to the crime, thus vindicating Frances as well as Johnny's faith in them, and all ends happily as Frances and Johnny plan to marry and the girls are released on probation.