Long Island’s Empty Jail

Whenever a film or TV show needs to film in a prison location, the go-to place to scout is a decommissioned jail at the Nassau County Correctional Facility.

Jail 01

Located in East Meadow, Long Island, the NCCF is the working jail for Nassau County. For years, inmates were housed in the facility pictured. Once a state-of-the-art jail, it no longer meets modern standards and was shut down some time ago. In recent years, it has found a new use as a set for numerous films and television shows.

Jail 02

I’ve scouted the jail numerous times over the past year, and the sheriff’s office has always been more than accommodating in arranging tours. The jail is an excellent, flexible, and totally unique filming location, and the revenue from productions goes to Nassau County. To help spread the word, I asked permission to post some of my pictures here for other scouts, filmmakers, and interested parties to see.

Jails are stark, lonely, claustrophobic and frightening places. This might all seem painfully obvious, but you don’t realize how true it is until you tour one on an overcast day.

This is a parking lot for guards.

Jail 03

A few barbecues in the parking lot for the guards. I love the sign reading “Cafe Carucci” – wonder if he was a particularly good cook?

Jail 04

There are some great signage relics in the lot:

Jail 05

This sign in particular is amusing: NO dumping garbage HERE, in this ONE SPOT!

Jail 06

And this sign, at the entrance to the facility, seems pretty important:

Jail 07

When you get off the elevator, you find yourself in a hallway lined with pastel green/black trim doors.

Jail 08

Go down the hall and you’ll find yourself in the main cell block, consisting of four rows of grayish-white cells that seem to go on endlessly.

Jail 09

A second wall of bars separates the guard hallway from the cells:

Jail 10

The cells are small, each with its own toilet and sink (the older cells have porcelain, the newer have stainless steel). Each cell features a different configuration of beds. All are incredibly claustrophobic.

Jail 11

At the end of one cell block is this old desk, still covered in notebooks and ledgers from when the jail was an active facility.

Jail 13

This ancient device controls the cell doors, and incredibly, it STILL WORKS! My understanding is that you choose the cells, then turn the crank on the right to open or close the doors.

Jail 14

Old speaker system mounted in the hallways:

Jail 15

The windows are completely glazed over, preventing any view to the outside world. All that comes through is an unwavering harsh white light. Occasionally, pigeons will land outside the windows, stay a minute, then fly away. I can only imagine how torturous this must have been for inmates to watch:

Jail 16

The cell blocks are all double-tiered:

Jail 17

In addition to the main blocks, there are some really interesting alternate cells. This is the old solitary confinement. Each of the two rooms has a single jail cell:

Jail 18

With the lights off and the door closed, you do NOT want to spend much time here.

Jail 19

This is the female cell block. At some point in the 1970’s, the women were given colorful paint to brighten up their cells. This is the result:

Jail 20

A closer view:

Jail 21

This is a section of a cell block reserved for the most depraved of inmates. If you notice, I’m taking this picture through a layer of plexi-glass ala Silence of the Lambs. This was to protect guards and visitors from any feces, urine, semen, or other bodily fluids that might be flung.

Jail 22

This hallway connects the cell blocks to the cafeteria. In the middle of it is a guard’s booth:

Jail 24

You can’t get props as realistic as the worn chairs, the old rolodex, the 1970’s desks…

Jail 25

…or the killer stereo!

Jail 26

The cafeteria has fallen into disrepair, but could easily be fixed up to accommodate a mess hall scene (or other locations – an indoor workout room, for example).

Jail 27

This is where prisoners would get their meal trays:

Jail 28

This door leads to the guard’s cafeteria:

Jail 29

This is the old style of inmate table, which I’m told is an antique.

Jail 30

This is the rec yard, which is still used by the active jails. Filming is difficult but possible here:

Jail 31

A guard’s booth sits in one corner. Note that it can’t be entered from the yard.

Jail 33

A single basketball court sits in one corner:

Jail 32

The Nassau County Jail is a one-of-a-kind location, which can be used for just about any prison/jail scenario you can imagine. The facility is in excellent condition, and offers a very flexible schedule. Anyone interested in using the jail can contact the Nassau County Film Commission here for more information.

-SCOUT

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15 comments

  1. Hi there. I was just curious if you were allowed to disclose exactly which films and TV shows were shot here. I figured since you didn’t in the post, that you probably aren’t going to, but I wanted to ask.

    I really enjoy your photos and reading what you have to say about these places. And I think this is one of my favorites so far.

    Thanks.

  2. Thanks for these and for the stories to the pictures. Cool stuff!

  3. I grew up over near that jail!

    Can you confirm that ENTIRE NCCF is not shut down? This looks like just one older building and I know they build a much larger, new facility in the 80s, when I was a kid. If this is that structure, then I feel very old, but I believe this is just a corner of the overall compound and that the rest is still in operation. Is that right?

    Regardless… this is very cool… a glimpse inside “the jail” from when I was a kid… very “Stand by Me-ish”.

  4. Along the same lines is the shuttered Kings Park Psychiatric Center about 30 miles to the northeast. It’s much more decrepit and may be too old to be suitable for a film shoot, but its grounds and buildings are still quite amazing – the state having more or less abandoned the property.

  5. That’s cool that money from filming etc goes to Nassau, hopefully your photos will drum up some interest!

  6. Hi i was wondering if you’d thnk the’d let me shoot a school film there? is it strickly for tv or movies?

  7. I am making a movie in March and would like to speak to someone about shooting in this jail,,,you can call me at 917-816-9901
    I would appreciate it,,,,Thank You Steven

  8. I was in tnat jail for 7 days. That was enough. I think I was in a cell block, it had 3 or 4 cells and there was overcrowding so I, along with a few other girls had to sleep on a mattress on the floor. I never committed another crime- the year was 1983. It was disorderly cond. apparently a big deal to get 10 days… I served 7 with good time. I moved from NY in 2000 and didn’t know that the jail was closed. Wow

  9. A couple of scenes from the film “The Hot Rocks” with Robert Redford was filmed there

  10. What’s the movie thingamabob they filmed on 11/27/12

  11. I just googled Prison shooting locations and just came upon your page. I looked at the dates on the comments and see that i may be a few years too late. Just wanted to commend you for great information and I’m praying this location is still available as I am dying to make a prison film. I have no problem making a small token of donation. Hope this site and info is still active.

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  13. I had a bologna sandwich and kool-aid in that jail. It was thankfully not an overnight visit.

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