Theresa Porter's first day as the new warden of Shawshank State Prison is overshadowed by the suicide of the outgoing warden, Dale Lacy. Seeking to turn a profit on the prison, she wants to increase the number of prisoners to make more money. When Porter is informed that there is an entire wing in disuse, she sends Dennis Zalewski and Boyd to count the beds with an eye to reopening it. She is shocked to find that the wing holds a secret – Warden Lacy had apparently kept an off-the-books prisoner in a cage built into a water cistern beneath the wing.
Refusing to be caught up in more scandal, Porter orders that the prisoner is not to be talked about publicly. The prisoner has said a name, "Henry Matthew Deaver," but it is known that it is not his. Henry Deaver is a Death Row attorney in Texas. Porter refuses to reach out to him regarding the prisoner, but unknown to her, Dennis Zalewski does, causing Henry to arrive in Castle Rock looking for a client of his. Since the prisoner was never entered into the prison roster, Porter continues to deny his existence to Henry when he arrives at the prison.
While drinking at a hotel bar, Porter is visited by Alan Pangborn, who warns her not to "let that fucking kid out." Worried about what Lacy was up to, she conspires with her deputy warden, Reeves to have the problem taken care of in a way that looks natural. They arrange to have the prisoner moved into a cell with a notorious inmate known for collecting life-sentences, hoping that he would kill the Kid. Instead, the inmate suddenly dies of cancer.
The existence of the inmate is revealed by realtor Molly Strand on the local television show Local Color. The publicity forces Porter to acknowledge the prisoner's existence and she meets with Henry to offer a settlement of $300,000 dollars in exchange for the prisoner signing an NDA regarding his incarceration. Henry knows that they can get a lot more for the Kid's suffering and tells her he plans to advise the Kid to turn down the settlement.