The Hamptons Police Department was forced last week to furlough all 350 inmates housed at its correctional facility in North Sea after the department didn’t receive the federal funding it was promised.
“Due to the federal government shutdown, the Hamptons Police Department’s regular disbursement for prisoner housing from the government was held up,” Hamptons Police Department spokesman Larry Hirsch says. “Faced with having to fall back on our own operating budget to keep the prison open, we decided instead to release all of the prisoners into the community for the time being.”
While admitting that some of the released inmates were being held for fairly serious and violent offenses, Hirsch nonetheless is dismissive of alarms raised by concerned residents. “We’ve got it in hand—we didn’t just release these guys with no strings attached,” Hirsch says, pointing out that inmates were instructed to carry out strict “self-sentencing” regimens while on furlough.
“Convicts who were serving time for car theft are required to watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang once a day for the duration of their furlough,” says Hirsch. “That will give them second thoughts about stealing somebody’s beloved automobile. Deer poachers will be watching Bambi, naturally—to learn not to hunt for does.”
According to Hirsch, the Hamptons Police have devised a full program of daily required film viewing to match the criminal proclivities of every class of furloughed inmate. “Catnappers will be watching The Aristocats, dognappers will be watching 101 Dalmatians, illegal polluters will be watching WALL-E—you get the idea. You name the offense, we’ve got a family-appropriate, G-rated film that will serve as a cautionary tale.” Inmates who are incarcerated for a variety of offenses will be watching multiple films on a daily basis.
Hirsch notes that the furloughed inmates were released on Thursday, and were furnished with DVD copies of the film, or films, they are required to view. But when pressed, Hirsch admitted that enforcement of the daily viewing will be difficult, if not impossible. “We’re already hard-pressed to handle all of the enforcement work we already have,” says Hirsch. “So, for right now, this is pretty much going on the honor system. But, you know, these are some classic films—who wouldn’t want to watch them every day?”
Hirsch was quick to add that, should members of the public notice somebody watching, say, Toy Story every day, they should not jump to conclusions. “Some people are just enthusiasts, and they’d be watching it anyway.” At press time, it remained unclear how long the furloughs would continue.