Typically when we think of jails, we think of cells full of tough guys with a menacing look in their eyes. Maybe we recall the prison scenes we’ve seen in movies: huge musclebound dudes lifting weights in the exercise yard, lots of crazy noise and catcalls as you walk through the cell blocks, and dark rumors about what goes on in the showers

But at the Lincoln County Jail in North Platte, Neb., that just doesn’t seem to be the case — especially now that there’s been an invasion of cute.

For the past week, inmates at the facility have been volunteering at a local animal shelter. They must have done really well there, because the jail’s staff decided to let them adopt two of their charges.

Nemo, an orange striped “marmalade cat,” is enjoying life in the work release cell block.

Sarge, a gray tabby, has become the mascot of the minimum security block, where he too has received a warm welcome.

Inmate Gary Myers says the cat “just brings out the soft spot in you, like your kids do.”

And it’s true. The news crew captured video of some of the guys, clad in striped coveralls and pink Crocs, tossing a jingly ball and laughing as Sarge charged after it.

Staff posted a list of very strict rules for the cat’s care that included regular litterbox cleaning, appropriate food and proper handling, among other things. Although jail residents are not typically fond of rules — which is probably why they ended up in jail in the first place — they don’t seem to mind when it comes to their feline companions. According to Sheriff Jerome Kramer, the guys are waiting in line to take care of Nemo and Sarge.

Sheriff Kramer cites studies showing that having pets in jails relieves stress and gives the inmates a constructive way to occupy their time. Even the staff loves the little guys and dote on them with love and play.

Maybe the cats will show both inmates and staff that they share a common bond. Regardless of what brought them there, whether it’s a crime or a paycheck, they are all united in their love and care for their furry mascots.