Wade Porter (Stephen Dorff) had it all going for him. A thriving construction business, a beautiful family and a future with endless possibilities for a great life. That all ends in an instant when while defending his home, he chases after a burglar and ends up killing him. Faced with the possibility of serving a 15 year sentence for Involuntary Manslaughter he pleads his case down to 13 months instead. Unfortunately he is woefully unprepared for what prison will be like for him. He gets caught up in unfortunate circumstances with a white prison gang and is then sent to the San Quenton SHU to serve his time. To survive against the other inmates and a sadistic cadre of guards, he finds himself tip toeing the line of prison politics and racism of the gangs and violent fights just to stay alive.
He is befriended by a hardened 20 year veteran of the prison who is a mass murderer named John Smith (Val Kilmer). Smith helps guide him to keep his sanity in the brutal conditions of prison. All the while Porters fiancee and child are trying to stay afloat while he is in prison as well serving out his sentence.
Well acted and well directed, Felon is one of the best prison movies ever made. It's right up there with American Me in terms of quality of film.