Louis Theroux visits San Quentin, one of America’s biggest and most notorious state prisons, where he enjoys guarded access to the prison and the outside yard areas to converse with the inmates. He meets with inmates convicted of serious violent crimes, including serial murderers, some of whom will never be released. One such inmate, David Silva, is serving a 521 year sentence.
The film explores the prison culture in which inmates divide themselves into gangs by race for protection, for example the Aryans and the Latinos, as well as exploring other aspects of the prison life including the tendency of some of the inhabitants of the all male prison to take ‘girlfriends’ and the unique but brutal code of conduct that inmates practice.
He also meets with at-risk inmates who are ostracized by all other inmates and would be rejected by the gangs, leaving them vulnerable whilst inside. Examples of these people in all prisons would be child abusers and ‘snitches’.