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Pilgrim State Psychiatric Center Jail

Page history last edited by Mary Ann Koferl 12 years, 10 months ago


On July 14, 1982 one hundred and ninety prisoners were moved into the new Long Island Correctional Facility on the grounds of Pilgrim State Hospital in Brentwood, NY.  To alleviate the problem that State prisons were overcrowded in local areas of Long Island, NY, Governor Hugh Carey made the decision to house 1000 medium security state convicts in three abandoned buildings at the psychiatric center of Pilgrim State Hospital. It cost seven million dollars to convert the three interconnected high-rise buildings to a jail. This decision solved the chronic overcrowding of jails in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. A few legislators opposed the new jail proposal as did a small activist group of citizens in the Town of Islip.


In his campaign speeches future Governor Mario Cuomo promised if elected to shut down the prison at Pilgrim State Hospital. When elected Governor Cuomo honored his promise and closed down the jail on March 31, 1985. Requests were made in 1984 to make the jail a county jail. Recycling of Pilgrim State would save the taxpayers $100 million dollars according to Michael O’Donohue, a Suffolk County legislator. Unfortunately this plan was never implemented and the jail was closed. The Pilgrim State Psychiatric Center Jail lasted less than three years. This part of local history is documented in several newspaper articles that can be found in the history collection of the Brentwood Public Library, Brentwood, NY.


-A. Bennett, Local History Room Newsletter, July 2009

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