EAST MEADOW, N.Y. (AP) _ Inmates of a Long Island jail have been enlisted in the effort to find missing children, hatching such ideas as distributing pictures of the youngsters to real-estate brokers or putting them on bubble-gum wrappers.

''If you want to know something about science, you go to a scientist, and if you want to know something about this sort of thing, you go to inmates,'' said Manhasset businessman Sal Miglio, who was the inspiration for the prisoners' project.

Each year, Miglio provides bail money to free a few inmates at Nassau Correctional Center for Christmas - he helped nine of them this week - and a couple of months ago, the inmates asked a county official what they could do in return.

Bobby Moore, coordinator of drug and alcohol services for the sheriff's department, told them Miglio, 53, had once mentioned he was especially interested in the plight of missing children.

About 70 prisoners went to work on proposals, and early this week a group of state and county officials and private individuals, including Miglio, began considering them. Members of the group said some of the ideas will be used.

Many of the ideas offered by inmates stressed involving children more in the search for other children, Moore said.

Among the ideas offered by inmates were putting pictures of missing children in comic books or on school buses, giving stiffer sentences to those convicted of taking children and staging a ''Live Aid''-type benefit concert to be called ''Live Kids.''

''Real estate offices as well as landlords that rent direct are a good source in the location of missing children. A directory should be provided to real estate offices,'' wrote one inmate, who did not give permission for his name to be used.

James DeSantis, 31, of Brooklyn, one of the inmates released Tuesday after Miglio paid his bail, suggested that pictures of missing children be put on chewing gum wrappers.

''If the public were to see these missing children more often, they would have a better chance of finding them,'' DeSantis said. He also suggested that cereal boxes have pictures of missing children instead of coupons.

''One way to increase the numbers of eyes on the street is to seek out the life of a community's teen-agers,'' another inmate wrote. ''Most teen-agers are hanging out exactly where many abductions occur - schools, shopping malls, parks, etc.''

''I think some of the ideas were excellent,'' said Sunny Szymanski who, along with her husband Michael, operates the Children's Rescue Foundation. The foundation raises funds for non-profit agencies that help find missing children.

''Some of the suggestions the inmates made are things that haven't been used before,'' she said. ''This is the type of crime that really turns their stomach and they want to do something about it.''