Barbara Clennon has recently lost a child and to forget her troubles, gets a job with the El Paso Gazette. Sent to the courthouse to cover current cases, she discovers that Jessie McKay, a 15-year-old girl, is being sentenced to a reformatory for smoking grass. Jessie says she saw a man killed. Her mother refuses to intercede. Barbara starts exploring and discovers that there are no records of Jessie in the system. She manages to see Jessie by pretending to be her aunt and promises to get her out. Her stressed-out husband refuses to accept Barbara’s desire to bring Jessie home and leaves her. A friend helps Barbara get Jessie out. Jessie sneaks home and finds her mother with a lover whom she cannot see. She escapes. Barbara is almost forced off the road by someone warning her to stop investigating Jessie. She is promised police protection. That evening her husband turns up on her porch beaten up and the cop is found dead. Her husband is now on her side. He goes to work while Barbara and Jessie go to the Chief Probation Officer’s office, where Jessie realizes that the man with her mother was the CPO. They are escorted home by police who go inside to check the house, find nothing and park themselves in front. As soon as the police leave, Barbara and Jessie are confronted by Tex Lyles, the Chief Probation Officer, who kidnaps them at gunpoint while the police stay in their police car unaware. Lyles heads toward the Mexican border, and a car chase ensues through downtown El Paso and along the border. Lyles threatens Barbara who gets the gun from him but is hesitant to shoot him. Lyles starts across the river and is caught in quicksand. Barbara’s husband arrives with the police who save him. Barbara wins a United Press Award for her series of newspaper articles. The Texas juvenile system is forced to release all juveniles in the system because their paperwork is corrupted.