Participate Please

Corrections or additions?

This article by Henry Innes MacAdams was prepared for the

September 27, 2000 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights


Centurion Ministries’ Mission

The most celebrated Princeton figure active in the death

penalty issue is James C. McCloskey III, once an international

management consultant, now executive director of Centurion Ministries.

Working on his own at first but now heading a team of five employees

and a

staff of volunteers based at 32 Nassau Street, he has helped secure

the release of 21 Americans and one Canadian who were imprisoned for

crimes they did not commit.

On Saturday, September 30, at 11 a.m. at Nassau Presbyterian Church,

McCloskey will moderate a panel that includes two former death row

inmates and the parents of a murdered girl.

Twenty-two years ago McCloskey could not have predicted what lay

ahead for him. That’s when he began to sense that his life in the

business world, where he worked introducing Japanese businessmen to

American markets, was coming to an end. "In the fall of 1978 it

occurred to me that the career I’d chosen since high school wasn’t

giving me what I needed in the spiritual realm," he says. "I

decided to renew my religious roots by becoming a minister in the

Presbyterian Church."

McCloskey informed his employer, the Hay Group, a Philadelphia-based

consulting firm, that he wanted a change. He was accepted into the

Master of Divinity program at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1979.

The next summer, while fulfilling his course work, he stumbled into

his first prison work, serving as a student chaplain at Trenton State


Because he was an older student, then 38, McCloskey was assigned to

the maximum security unit, housing both the criminally insane, and

the lockdown area ("the Vrooom Room" in prison parlance).

"It’s for prisoners who have difficulties living with the regular

population of inmates," McCloskey says. "They’re placed in

it for punishment."

One of the inmates in the lockdown was Jorge de los Santos, serving

his sixth year of a life sentence for murder. "Jorge proclaimed

his innocence from the moment I met him," says McCloskey.


got my immediate attention. I couldn’t believe someone innocent could

be sentenced to life. I had no prior experience with this kind of


The case of the wrongful conviction of Rubin `Hurricane’ Carter,


after 21 years in prison, made McCloskey think that perhaps something

could be done. He got hold of the trial transcripts and learned that

de los Santos had been convicted on the testimony of a professional

criminal and jailhouse "snitch." Investigating that case took

one year, which meant that study at the seminary was put on hold while

McCloskey formed a defense committee of jurists, attorneys, and


secured the services of a defense lawyer, and conducted his own


At the same time he raised $25,000 for legal expenses.

De los Santos was freed in 1983, the same year McCloskey completed

his masters of divinity degree. And by then he knew what his true

vocation would be.

Centurion Ministries was launched in 1983, on barely more than "a

wing and a prayer." The organization’s name, says McCloskey, is

taken from the New Testament’s Gospel of Luke (23:47), the passage

in which a Roman centurion acknowledges the innocence of Jesus at

the moment of the latter’s public execution for a capital offense.

"We help out where we can, when we can, however we can," says

McCloskey. "Our work doesn’t stop once we’ve helped to free


who’s innocent of a crime. We also try to help reintegrate that person

into a life they might not have known for as many as 25 years."

— Henry Innes MacAdam

Centurion Ministries, 32 Nassau Street,


08542. 609-921-0334; fax 609-921-6919. E-Mail:

For the review of a death penalty drama on Broadway, go to

Top Of Page

Puttin’ on the Ritz has auditions for adult roles for

the musical, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,"

on Sunday, October 1, at the Ritz Theater, 915 White Horse Pike,


Performances will be January 18 through February 17. Bring a song

and be prepared to dance. To schedule, call 856-858-5230.

Kelsey Theater, Mercer County College, West Windsor, has

open auditions for the holiday musical, "’Twas the Night Before

Christmas," directed by Dan Spalluto, on Monday and Tuesday,


23 and 24, at 7 p.m. There are roles for adults and children ages

10 and up. Be prepared to sing and present a one-minute monologue.

Performances will be at Kelsey from December 15 through 17. No



Kelsey Theater seeks three strong actresses ages 17


60 for "Agnes of God." Auditions will be Monday and Tuesday,

October 23 and 24, at 7 p.m. Be prepared to sing a hymn of your choice

without accompaniment. No appointments.

Top Of Page
Participate Please

The League of Women Voters of New Jersey hosts a pre-show

fundraiser at political satirist Mark Russell’s performance Saturday,

October 28, at State Theater, New Brunswick. The event celebrates

the 80th anniversaries of women’s right to vote and the league’s


Corporate and individual sponsorships are also needed to help the

League reach voters with nonpartisan information before Election Day.

Reception and show tickets are $80; deadline is September 29. Website: or call 609-799-6272.

New Jersey Theatre Group has published a statewide


for the 2000-2001 season listing 21 professional theaters and 10


theaters throughout the state. NJTG also offers its Theater Sampler

Series of any three plays for $60. Website:

For a free calendar call 973-593-0189 or e-mail:

Pennington Dance has openings in classes in ballet,


jazz, tap, and pre-school dance in studios in Pennington and


Call Nancy Warner, 609-737-7596.

The Residence at Forsgate is offering Monroe Township

area clubs and organizations free space for meetings. The Residence

is located on Route 32, one mile from New Jersey Turnpike Exit 8A.

Call Carolann Koerner, 732-656-1000.

Jewish Guild for the Blind is offering a free, 12-page

brochure for sighted people to understand how to interact with


impaired people. For a copy of the brochure, "Assisting People

with Vision Loss," write to Public Relations Department, Jewish

Guild for the Blind, 15 West 65th Street, New York 10023; or call


Community Hospice is offering its 20-hour Family Support

Team Training Class beginning Saturday, October 7, at the Lawrence

Library. Community members volunteer their time to provide


and other services to maximize the quality of life for people with

terminal illnesses in Mercer County. Call Caryl Tipton at


Friends of the New Jersey State Museum has a field trip

to New York City, Thursday, October 19. Tour includes Grand Central

Terminal and the American Museum of Natural History. $50. Call


Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Mercer County has soil

test kits are available for $8 at County Extension offices. To


a kit, call 609-989-6830. For soil testing information, call


Lenni Lenape Historical Society is lending Native American

multi-media learning boxes as an educational outreach effort to area

schools and youth organizations. Each box includes books, videos,

CDs, musical instruments, dolls, toys, games, that can be adapted

to meet the needs of students from K to 12. Native Technology boxes

include a seven-foot tepee. Call 610-797-2121.

Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission and

the Asian Society in America (ASIA) have released ASIA’s first


directory, also available in Braille and large-type editions. ASIA

is also working on a directory of Asian artists, arts groups, and

arts organizations. For a copy of the membership directory or


for inclusion in the arts directory, call 732-745-4489.

Westminster Conservatory is planning a series of matinee

concert trips to New York City, with round-trip bus transportation

between either Princeton or North Brunswick and New York, and time

for lunch or visiting before each performance. Saturday, November

4, the New York Philharmonic performs Brahms’ Symphony No. 1; on


27, the Philharmonic performs Strauss’s "Also sprach


and on April 14, it performs Kodaly’s "Variations on a Hungarian

Folksong"; tickets are $54 per person. Also, a February 17 outing

to the Metropolitan Museum of Art features music by Gershwin,


and Poulenc; tickets are $41 per person. Call 5609-921-7104.

head 12 = Volunteer Call

Community Hospice is offering a 20-hour Family Support

Team Training Class, beginning Saturday, October 7. at the Lawrence

Library. Community members volunteer their time to provide


and other services to maximize the quality of life for people with

terminal illnesses in Mercer County. Call Caryl Tipton at


The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Middlesex


seeks volunteers to service as mentors for juveniles referred by


Court. They will work closely with the youth and his family under

the guidance and supervision of court officers. Training is provided.

Call Joelyn Bobin at 732-249-6330.

Donations Wanted

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