Submitted by Yolanda Padilla
For Immediate Release:
Annual Prayer Vigil to be held on Thursday, May 10th at 6 pm outside of the Union County Juvenile Detention Center, located above the County's Employee Parking Garage on Elizabethtown Plaza in Elizabeth (There will be a freeholder meeting following the prayer vigil at 7pm)
My son, Edward Sinclair Jr., was found dead on May 10, 2003, while being detained in an unsafe cell in the Union County Detention Center. The state's Office of the Child Advocate investigated and released a report, which blamed the county for setting the stage for my son's death. The advocate cited deplorable and dangerous conditions and stated that the county had a fundamental disregard for basic human rights.
I have vowed to hold a prayer vigil every year on the date of my sons death for not only the memory of my son, but for all the juveniles who were held under these same deplorable conditions, until I feel these children are safe and receiving decent county services.
For over 10 years, the county has ignored the juvenile detention center problem while building several other county buildings. One building project that took precedence over a new detention center was the new Prosecutors building in Elizabeth. A site which was originally slated for a new detention center. The sign on the front of the facility reads, "The Andrew K. Routolo Justice Center." Justice for who?
It unnerves me that they would have the disrespect to post the word "justice" on one of their brand new facilities while still holding juveniles in that run down, unsafe facility which is located on the top floor of their parking garage.
While ignoring the juvenile detention center problem county leadership took no responsibility for what they had done and what they had failed to do. On Dec. 16, 2005, Freeholder Angel Estrada spoke at a freeholder meeting where he blamed my son for being "Caught in a loop that he couldn't get out of." Freeholder Estrada did not know my son; how dare he judge him. He went on to say "...society and individuals in society have to take on the responsibility of things that they actually do that may cause harm to other individuals." No other county official present commented on Estrada's public statement.
If only his statement were true and the freeholders and county manager would have to take on the responsibility of things that they actually did that caused harm to my son and all the juveniles who passed through that center and were held under the same deplorable, unsafe conditions.
I will hold a vigil at the detention center every year on May 10th until I am satisfied that justice has been served and juveniles are safe.