Jim McCloskey, was born in Havertown, Pennsylvania, a western suburb of Philadelphia. He graduated from Bucknell in 1964 with a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Economics. He then spent three years as an OCS graduated officer in the U.S. Navy. First he was an assistant officer in charge of U.S. Naval communications station near Tokyo, Japan. Then he spent a year in the Mekong Delta living and working with a South Vietnamese naval group whose mission was to patrol the rivers and the South China Sea coast to intercept Viet Cong infiltrators. Jim was awarded the Bronze Star with the combat V for his courage under fire.
After earning a post-graduate degree in international business from The American Graduate School for International Business in Phoenix, Arizona in 1968, Jim began his business career. From 1969 until 1973 he lived in Tokyo and worked for a management-consulting firm jointly owned by the Citicorp Bank of New York City and the Fuji Bank of Japan. He primarily conducted market research and joint venture negotiations on behalf of American clients interested in establishing their business in Japan and other Asian markets.
Jim returned to Philadelphia in 1974 where he worked for another consulting firm, The Hay Group. Building on his Japan business expertise, Jim developed and led Hay’s business with Japanese companies in the United States and established Hay’s management consulting business in Tokyo where it flourishes to this day.
In 1979, at age 37, Jim left Hay and the business world for what he thought was a calling to be a church minister. However, things took a different and unexpected turn. While earning his Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, Jim satisfied his field education requirement by serving as a student chaplain at Trenton State Prison in 1980. He came across an inmate named Jorge de los Santos who was in the sixth year of a life sentence for a Newark, NJ murder of which he claimed to be innocent. Provoked by this man’s cries of innocence and a study of the trial transcripts, Jim, in early 1981, took a one-year leave of absence from Princeton Theological Seminary to work full-time and independently on behalf of Mr. De los Santos.
Jim formed a defense committee of noted New Jersey jurists, attorneys, and clergy; secured the services of a great defense lawyer; conducted his own investigation; and raised and spent $25,000 to meet the costs of freeing Jorge. In July of 1983, Mr. De los Santos was freed and exonerated by a Federal District Judge in Newark. By that time Jim had come to believe in the complete innocence of two other men, Rene Santana and Damaso Vega, and had returned to his studies and graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary. Jim decided to forego the church pastorate in favor of establishing Centurion Ministries and devoting the rest of his life to freeing the imprisoned innocent beginning with Messrs. Santana and Vega, both of whom he freed during the second half of the 1980’s.
In the 20 years since that decision, Jim has traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada conducting numerous investigations of wrongful convictions. Since C.M. was founded in 1983, C.M. has freed and exonerated 27 innocent people, each of whom has spent an average of 15 years under false imprisonment serving life or death sentences for crimes they did not commit. Jim speaks publicly to a variety of groups about the convicted innocent. He also writes for publications about this phenomenon and the individual injustices C.M. has helped overturn.
In June 2002, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice conferred on Jim an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.
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