Los Angeles, CA: Following the release from prison of socialite Paris Hilton after just 3 days of her 23 day sentence, news is beginning to leak out of an epidemic of crying and mass hysteria that is sweeping the nation's prisons.
Apparently the news that Hilton, 26, a notorious cry-baby and prone to tantrums, had been released after spending two full days and nights blubbing uncontrollably in her cell has spurred other prisoners to adopt the same tactic in a bid to get their own sentences reduced.
Consequently, the floors of correctional facilities up and down the country are now awash with tears as thousands of prisoners cry, weep, wail, beat their breasts and throw themselves to the floor in an attempt to engender sympathy from the authorities.
The situation has become so serious in some institutions that extra supplies of tissues and crack teams of janitors trained in flood control have had to be drafted in at taxpayers' expense.
One inmate, Rocky "the fist" Sampoza, speaking by telephone from California's Century Regional Detention Facility where Ms Hilton had been held, managed to control his lacrimation long enough to tell us that after Hilton's departure just a few prisoners initially began crying in a calculated attempt to obtain sympathy. But as more and more prisoners joined in a form of mass hysteria began to take over and within a few hours, even those prisoners who had resolved to keep a stiff upper lip were affected.
"It was like a disease swept over the joint" said Mr Sampoza. "At first it was just a few, but then it was more and more and now it's just about everybody".
Apparently, in the worst affected institutions even some of the guards have succumbed and have had to be sent home to lie down and get a grip.
Dr Hertzog Willhlem of the Bern Institute of Psychology, a noted expert in the field of mass hysteria, told us "This is a very dangerous situation. When you have so many people crammed together in an enclosed place like a prison, it doesn't take much to set off an outbreak of hysteria. So many of those people are under great psychological pressure to start with that something like this is all that's needed to push them over the edge".
Paris Hilton, meanwhile, was unavailable for comment as, according to one of her aides, "she's all cried out".