Crime, Legal Related

CENTURION MINISTRIES

Hope. Justice. Freedom

Quick Facts

aka Centurion

Princeton, NJ

Mission

Our mission is to vindicate and free from prison those individuals in the United States and Canada who are factually innocent of the crimes for which they have been unjustly convicted and imprisoned for life or death.

Ruling Year

1987

Executive Director

Kate Germond

Main Address

1000 Herrontown Road

Princeton, NJ 08540 USA

Keywords

innocent in prison, indigent defense, wrongful convictions, human services, legal services, court reform, reintegration, legal reform, investigation, factual innocence, exoneration, exoneree

EIN

22-2563979

 Number

7448390861

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Administration of Justice, Courts (Court Administration, Court Reform, Alternatives to Litigation and Sentencing) (I50)

Law, International Law, and Jurisprudence (V26)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve New!

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Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking freedom for the factually innocent wrongly imprisoned

Where we workNew!

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

Our primary goal is to free and exonerate men and women sentenced to life, death or lengthy prison terms for crimes they did not commit. Freeing the innocent also involves helping the freed person make the difficult adjustment to life outside the prison. We consider our freed people our family and seeing them thrive is a touchstone for everyone involved. We seek to provide them with everything needed to ease the challenging transition from incarceration to a thriving existence, including clothing, medical care, housing, employment, and financial support. We have also begun to focus on advocating policy changes to a criminal justice system where wrongful convictions can so readily occur and where an innocent person is so easily thwarted from obtaining freedom.

We receive over 1600 new requests for help each year and we read and respond to every request. We look for cases of actual innocence and, from that group, select cases we can take on to free that person from the wrongful conviction. Our work began in 1980 with the exoneration of the first person in 1983. We have since freed 61 people. We work to free the innocent by conducting independent investigations, obtaining legal representation and by providing related services. We thoroughly study the complete case record before committing to a case and then we go into the field and knock on doors to interview witnesses. We hire experts and lawyers to get the case back into the courts. Once the person is freed, we work with them wherever they are to find employment, housing, and medical care. We have 35 years of experience with the criminal justice system. From this experience we will be able to work on policies to change the way the system assesses and treats people accused and convicted of crimes for which they are innocent. It is with this same biography that we have learned to work more effectively with our freed clients.

We are a fiscally conservative organization with a dependable base of contributors who have supported us consistently for years. In addition, our board actively attracts new donors. At times we have found donors willing to fund the costs of a specific case. Costs for any given case, however, vary widely. A simple DNA exoneration can cost as little as $30,000 but an exoneration resulting from a full field investigation and court procedure can cost upwards of $500,000. A field investigation can take between 4 to12 years to complete. There are additional costs associated with supporting freed individuals, which costs vary wildly depending on their base of support. Our current donor base provides us with the financial capability to serve our present caseload, but we seek to hire another full time investigator to increase the number of cases we handle, and thus will be initiating a nationwide capital campaign in 2016.

We have a full-time paid staff of nine, a part-time paid staff of five, and 23 retired people and university students who volunteer anywhere from 10 to 30 hours per week reviewing and developing cases. Of the full-time staff, we have two full-time investigators, a legal director, three staff who manage the case development and volunteers, the Executive Director who oversees the organization and leads fund raising activities, and a development person. All of these people enable us to work on our mandate. Everyone who works here is dedicated and enthusiastic about our goals to identify cases of wrongful conviction, investigate to free the wrongly convicted, and then to support them once freed. Our 35 years of experience gives us a broad foundation for this work.

We have several benchmarks that let us know we are on track with our mandate. We ask ourselves:
First, are we identifying and developing cases of actual innocence that we can take on? We can measure our progress by looking at the number of requests we review and whether we have, in fact, found suitable cases to handle. We then judge whether our capacity for handling such cases is adequate or in need of growth.
Second, do our investigations and representations of the wrongly convicted result in freedom? This measure is a simple matter of numbers. How many inmates have we freed in a given period? Ideally, we would like to increase the number of exonerations year over year, every year. (This is, of course, our ultimate measure of progress. But on this point, the criminal justice system is a harsh taskmaster and getting people finally freed is a much more laborious campaign than it was 20-30 years ago.)
Third, are the exonorees coping and succeeding in life after prison? We follow the situation of every such individual and try to ensure they receive the help they need. We measure progress by determining whether the exonorees have employment, living accommodations, adequate medical treatment and support groups.
Fourth, if we can impact the criminal justice system with at least a countrywide dialogue, and ideally by effecting real change, then are we not indeed making progress?

While we have freed 53 people, we are currently working to free another 24 inmates. Countless others seek relief from wrongful incarceration. To more effectively fulfill our purpose, we need to immediately hire another full-time investigator. We could also improve our capabilities for assisting our freed exonerees. We are presently developing a comprehensive program that will be a much more systematic pro-active way to work with them. When we have the budgeted funds, we want to hire a social worker to help in this effort. We are in the formative stages of considering how to best effect policy changes in the criminal justice system. With the recent addition of a full-time legal director with over 40 years of experience as an attorney working within the criminal justice system, we will able to put together a reasonable and necessary plan for making a foray into the world of policy making.

External Reviews

Financials

CENTURION MINISTRIES

Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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  • Forms 990 for 2016, 2015 and 2014
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Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

No

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

No

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

No

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

No

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?

No