The story of the Prison Doctor is inspired by real crime cases in which male long-term prison inmates seek to seduce female prison personnel. In most cases the sex is the minor attraction for them. The real aim is escape. Some have been successful. A few have gotten clear away, but the usual result is a jail sentence for the prison officer.
In a widely publicised New York case two male prisoners made promises of a new life on a Mexican beach (a la Shawshank Redemption) to a guard who was unhappy in her marriage. The escape was successful, but in the manhunt that followed one prisoner was killed and the other returned to prison with an increased sentence. The guard got her first taste of life on the other side of the bars.
The Prison Doctor begins with Magnuson, a convicted killer on death row, seeing the prison’s new doctor as a weakness in the security system. Gillian, the doctor, is a timid and unhappy woman who has been through two unsuccessful marriages. Magnuson believes she is ripe for the picking. He sees her as his way off the Row and out of the prison.
At the same time prisons expert Beloved Childe is busy with a project in the prison and gets to know the doctor. She has interviewed Magnuson and understands just how manipulative he is. She sees Gillian falling under his spell and tries to warn her against him, but the doctor’s needs are too great. She believes that at last this is a man who is sensitive to her needs. When she is attacked on the street she does not realise the Magnuson is behind it and this is part of a softening up process, the aim of which is to make her dependent on him. She is convinced that he is the one person who truly cares for her.
Despite her suspicions the escape is a surprise to Beloved. She is faced with a double challenge: she wants to help find Magnuson and Gillian before any more damage is done. He may try to kill her the moment he no longer has a need for her. At the same time she believes Gillian to be an innocent victim and wants her to be seen as such. She can see no sense in the doctor, whose real crime is foolishness, spending time in jail.
Beloved’s cross country chase to intercept them is based on a single clue, something Gillian said in an unguarded moment.