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Tommy Gordon, a tough young crook, is sent to Sing Sing Prison for armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. When Tommy's lawyer, Ed Crowley, a corrupt ward boss, tries to make a deal with Warden Long to give Tommy special attention, Long burns the bribe and informs Crowley that prison is a democracy--no inmate is better than any other. Tommy resents the prison routine, but the understanding Long finally makes an impression on him. Steve Rockford, a well-educated convict, plans a prison break which the newly reformed Tommy refuses to join. A guard and a convict are killed in the unsuccessful prison break after which Steve commits suicide. Meanwhile in New York, Tommy's girl friend, Kay Manners, who has kept after Crowley to work for Tommy's release, is injured when she jumps from a car to escape his advances. Long allows Tommy to visit Kay on the promise that he will return to prison. At Kay's apartment, Tommy and Crowley exchange blows and Tommy is knocked unconscious. Crowley is about to kill Tommy when Kay shoots and kills Crowley instead. Tommy escapes and is about to leave the country on a boat when he learns that Long is about to be fired for allowing him to leave prison. To save his friend's reputation, Tommy returns and surrenders. Tommy is sentenced to the electric chair for Crowley's murder. Kay tries to convince Long that she is the actual murderer, but Tommy will not back up her story. When Kay visits him in prison, Tommy tells her that even if her confession was believed, they still would never be together. When Kay asks him to marry her before he dies, Tommy advises her to marry a swell guy, not someone like him, and goes to his death happy in the knowledge that he has done something decent in saving Kay from a prison sentence.