Warden Samuel Norton is first seen when he introduces himself to the new inmates. He portrays himself as a strict Christian, but this is mostlikely a facade to maintain a good public image. He has no problem with ordering Captain Byron Hadley to beat any inmate that interrupts him with his nightstick. Warden Norton says that he believes in two things: discipline and the Bible, and that the inmates will receive both.
Norton than says that he will not tolerate blasphemy in his prison and then tells the prisoners that their asses belong to him. Norton then has all of the prisoners coated in de-lousing powder and then painfully hosed down with a fire hose. Norton is not seen for much of the film, although he does appear around midway through the first half of the film upon learning of Andy Dufresne's financial expertiese from Hadley. Norton pulls him out of the laundry so he can do taxes for all of the guards at Shawshank. Later on in the film, Andy is quickly forced to do criminal activities.
Warden Norton creates the "inside-out program", where inmates leave the prison to work on public service projects, such as the building of roads. Because independant contractors can't compete with the "army of slaves" Norton has taking up all of the projects they need to make a profit, Norton makes them bribe him so they can get the contract instead of Norton's men. Also, Norton would skim off of the top by buying expensive equipment and then steal all of the extra money.
He uses Andy's accounting skills for his own illegal uses, mainly for handling the laundered money and transferring it into various accounts. Andy gets the idea to create a fictional person for all of the accounts to be tied back to, so nobody will get blamed for the money laundering should anybody stumble across the crime. After Andy discovers from another inmate named Tommy Williams who really murdered his wife and her lover, Andy realizes that he could finally prove his innocence and be released from prison.
Andy tells his story to Norton, who doesn't believe him. When Andy says that should he be released, he would never say anything about the corruption going on inside the prison walls, Norton flies into a rage and has Andy put in solitary confinement for a month. Later, Norton has Hadley shoot Tommy to death with a rifle after learning that he would be willing to testify on Andy's behalf.
Norton then talks to Andy and claims that he killed Tommy because he was trying to escape, which is a lie. Norton, who knows that Andy is almost ready to expose the corruption, tells Andy to forget about the whole mess. When Andy threatens to stop helping him with his illegal transactions, Norton tells him that if he were to do this, he would do the hardest time there is, with no protection from any of the guards and being moved out of his one-bunk cell into a cell filled with violent male rapists.
He then threatens to burn all of the books in the Brooks Hatlen Memorial Library and then locks Andy up for another month. When Andy is released, he decides that he has been in prison long enough and switches out Norton's incriminating bank deposit records with his Bible, which was hollowed out to store his rock hammer.That night, Andy steals one of Norton's suits and his best pair of dress shoes and escapes Shawshank through the tunnel he had been digging for over twenty years. The next morning, Andy uses the fake identity he created to make withdrawls of all of Norton's money from various banks and then mails the crooked books to the newspaper, who report the corruption and murder going on at Shawshank. When the police arrive, they arrest Hadley and attempt to arrest Norton. However, Norton shoots himself with a snub-nose Smith & Wesson Model 10 revolver, as to avoid a miserable incarceration in the very prison he administrated.