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USA: Rainforest Films / Palm Pictures
Cast: Richard T Jones, Gabriel Casseus, De'aundre Bonds, Melissa De Sousa, Bill Nunn, Clifton Powell, Master P, Joe Torry, Anna Maria Horsford, Anthony Boswell, Paulette Braxton, Mike Butters, Deborah Chavez, Angelo Dimascio, Andrew Divoff, Sticky Fingaz, David 'Shark' Fralick, Ameer Harris, Jimmy Keller, Kevin Kennedy, Dwayne Macopson, Courtney McLean, Antonio Lewis Todd, Chrystale Wilson
Director: John Luessenhop
USA Rated: R for brutal violence including sexual assaults, a strong scene of sexuality, pervasive language and graphic drug use
USA Release Date: 14 February 2003 (Limited Release - Los Angeles and New York)
Avery (Richard T Jones) has finally gotten his life back on track. A competitive swimmer, he had to drop out of college to support his girlfriend, Krista (Melissa De Sousa), and their son, Jordan. He's back on the swim meet circuit, and starting to have some success. When a college scout approaches him after winning his latest race, he goes out to celebrate with his friends, Cashmere (Gabriel Casseus) and Dre (De'aundre Bonds). In an instant, Avery's luck is about to run out...
The fateful decision to celebrate his swim meet win with his neighborhood friends, Cashmere and Dre, costs Avery his freedom, and almost everything else he holds dear. When the cops pull them over, Avery and his friends don't know that a gun used in a murder has been planted in Cashmere's car.
With little else to go on, the three friends are wrongly convicted by an extremely flawed judicial system and sent to the State Penitentiary, which is governed not by law and justice, but by gangs of convicts and guards alike - and so begins a nightmarish existence for the three friends.
For Cashmere, it is not much different than the life he led on the outside. He'll have to contend with Clean-Up (Master P), the leader of the prison's most dangerous gang. But Dre isn't strong enough to contend with the abuse of his cellmate, Graffiti (David 'Shark' Fralick). Meanwhile Avery has to struggle against this backdrop of violence and dispiriting lawlessness to give him a reason to hold on, but it is a man who is almost a stranger to him who holds the keys to his freedom, his hopes, his soul - the swimming scout, Charles (Bill Nunn), who believes in Avery's innocence and is fighting for his release.
But will Avery be able to hold on to the things he believed in, the things he loved before his incarceration and survive the abusive world of a maximum security prison?
This cautionary tale of three friends wrongly imprisoned and dealing with the horrors of prison is set on the grounds of the New Mexico State Penitentiary, site of the bloodiest prison riot in American history.