Jamaa Fanaka's raw and violent indictment of prison life is a masterpiece of Urban Cinema and was the most successful independent film of 1980. A potent combination of 'blaxpoitation, prison film and social commentary, Penitentiary busted genres and galvanised audiences from the art houses to the inner city, becoming the cornerstone of urban independent film for generations to come Martel Gordone is a Hitchhiker who gets into a fight with a pair of bikers over a prostitute. One of the biker dies and Martel finds himself in prison with the moniker ' too sweet' because of his love of candy bars. Soon, he is a hardened but pragmatic inmate who joins the prison boxing team in an effort to secure an early parole. Standing in his path however is 'Half Dead Johnson', a member of the prison's most violent gang.