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November 30, 2016

Fight club alleged at South Jersey juvenile detention center

Inmate, then 15, says guards oversaw fights for amusement, according to lawsuit

Guards ran a fight club, forcing teen prisoners at the Cumberland County Juvenile Detention Center to beat each other, according to a federal civil rights lawsuit.

In the suit, Edward Scanlon IV alleges he was physically and psychologically abused for the amusement of jailers at the Bridgeton facility when he was held there as a 15-year-old.

Scanlon claims he was forced to fight other inmates between March 2 and 5, 2012, according to the suit, first reported by public records advocate John Paff.

The suit was filed in spring 2016 in Cumberland County Superior Court, but has been moved to federal jurisdiction.

The lawsuit names then-executive director Valeria Lawson and Deputy Director Felix Mickens of the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission, Cumberland County Warden Bob Balicki, and division heads Veronica Surrency and Michael Batuzza of the Cumberland County Juvenile Detention Center.

Lawyers have declined comment, according to

Scanlon alleges he was seriously injured, tripped by guards and refused medical attention.

The mission statement of the facility states, “The mission of the Cumberland County Juvenile Detention Center is to provide secure custody, supervision and protection for those youth who are deemed to be a threat to the community and/or whose confinement is necessary to ensure their presence at a hearing. It is our goal to accomplish this mandate in a safe environment which promotes individual growth through education and empowerment.”