powered by AFI
To satiate his wife's craving for social status, businessman Dan Sparling embezzles from his firm. Dan is caught and sentenced to prison, where, embittered and outspoken, he becomes editor of the prison newspaper. His brilliant editorials earn him the respect of warden John Wilson, while also attracting the attention of the outside world. When Dan saves the warden's life during a prison break, he is offered parole but refuses it, preferring to pay his debt to society instead. After he is released from prison, Dan meets Margaret Bronson, the owner of the newspaper and the sister of Hewitt Bronson, a candidate for governor. Margaret is attracted to Dan until she learns that he is an ex-convict. Dan, whose daughter Ellen has been the ward of her aunt, Gertrude Bishop, since the death of his wife, discovers that his sister-in-law has prejudiced Ellen against him. After failing to secure employment at Margaret's newspaper, Dan wins the backing of the warden and public-spirited citizens to start an opposition newspaper dedicated to clean civic government. The newspaper becomes a success, and when Wilson loses his job, Dan supports him in his bid for governor against Hewitt. Meanwhile, Flint, a crook who served time with Dan, tries to interest the editor in a payroll robbery, but Dan throws him out of his office, and Ellen overhears the argument. To protect her brother, Margaret threatens to expose Dan's prison background, but he beats her to it and prints the story in his own newspaper. This causes Ellen much embarrassment, and she returns to her aunt. When Flint is caught committing a robbery, he implicates Dan in the crime. Margaret's paper siezes upon this to bring about Dan's arrest in the middle of a political speech. Learning of her father's predicament, Ellen tells Margaret about Dan's fight with Flint, and although it means defeat for her brother, Margaret prints the truth and wins Dan's release. The warden is then elected governor, and Dan, reunited with Ellen, joins Margaret's paper as editor.