The film opens with a scene of FBI agent Richard Hendricks (Michael O'Shea) bedridden in a hospital bed, dictating the results of his investigation for a report to the California Governor. The dictation scenes are interrupted by long flashback scenes showing how the investigation proceeded.
After a number of paroles granted to dangerous career criminals, the California Governor and State Attorney General suspected corruption in the state parole board. They called upon Hendricks to investigate and expose those involved. Hendricks decided to go undercover as an ex-convict wanting to buy a parole for a criminal partner currently in jail. He then proceeded to infiltrate the social circle of another recent parolee of dubious character, Harry Palmer, and ask him how to purchase a parole. However, the people operating the parole purchase ring were quite secretive and ready to take extreme measures to prevent their exposure.