A women's prison. Women arrive, some for as long as eight years. They work making teddy bears. Dessombes, the head matron, misses little. She gets intelligence from Marthe, an older convict. When the uncompromising and difficult Nelly is sent to the hole for something she didn't do, the women suspect that Marthe had a hand in it. Brigitte breaks off their friendship, so Marthe adopts Nicole, guilty of infanticide and shunned by the other prisoners, as her surrogate daughter. Sabine, young, energetic, and one of the few with a husband who visits her, falls in love with Lucie, a woman who has given up on life and fears the day of her release. Tensions mount.