Big House, U.S.A.
Extortionist Jerry Barker (Ralph Meeker) accidentally comes upon a runaway child and uses the opportunity to take the boy and demand a ransom. After collecting the money, Barker flees when he discovers the boy has accidentally fallen to his death. The FBI becomes involved, and Barker is apprehended, but without a body, he's only sentenced for extortion. In prison, Barker is placed with hardened criminal Rollo Lambert (Broderick Crawford), who plots a breakout to get the hidden ransom.