A Life Sentence in Old Essex County Jail

The derelict interior of Essex County Jail is shown in disarray with collapsed wooden beams, debris scattered on the ground, and walls covered in graffiti. Sunlight filters through the holes in the roof, illuminating the dust-filled air and highlighting the gritty textures of decay within the abandoned structure.

If you can't do the time, don't do the crime! Or so they say around the block in my neighborhood.

A while back, I did do some time, in the old Essex County Jail. You may be wondering what did I do to deserve a harsh life sentence. My crime was shooting photography in a public space. At a time like this, photography seems to be a crime in itself. However, I came here to capture this old jail before it received the electric chair. The electric chair is the demolition rig. This old New Jersey institution's last days are upon us and before you know it, it will be asking for its last meal anytime soon this year if the large education institution gets its way to remove the derelict neighborhood blight from its lofty perch.

The jail facility was designed by penitentiary architect John Haviland and built-in 1837. The jail was closed in 1970 and has been languishing ever since. Coming close to demolition as recently as 2010. However, Rutgers Law School has petitioned to de-register the property from historical registers to make way for demolition. For over 45 years, the old jail has been sitting abandoned for some time. In that time, the jail has been gaining a reputation for drug users using the old jail cells for recreational purposes. In addition to that, attracting huge numbers of explorers within its walls all along the east coast.

Entering the facility is much easier than today's penitentiary facilities located throughout the United States. Inside the jail, lurks the endless jail cells where many Newark prisoners were once held. Littered around the jail are heaps of garbage from drug users and explorers alike. Among the refuge, you will find soda cans, used needles, glass vials, clothes, shoes, household goods, chip bags, roof boards, and other general debris. The open canopy roof has already caved in certain areas of the facility. Only time will tell if it will continue holding for the rest of the year.

Until the last meal is provided and consumed, this old jail-turned-drug den will see the end in the not-too-distant future. Only time will tell until a proposal is submitted on what to do with the vacant lot that will inevitably be there once the last pile of rubble is shuttled away to a far-corner landfill.


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