***Le texte français suit***
- Click here to download the 2014 CoSA Gathering Report
- Click here to download the 2013 CoSA Gathering Report
- Click here to download the 2012 CoSA Gathering Report
- Click here to download the 2011 CoSA Gathering Report
Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) is a reintegration initiative based on restorative justice principles for federally sentenced, high-risk, high needs sex offenders who have been held to the end of their sentence. Although imprisoning offenders accomplishes the short term objective of ensuring public safety, most are eventually released and return to communities with no support and very little in the way of accountability.
CoSA was developed in Canada in 1994 to fill this void. The goal is to substantially reduce the risk of future victimization of community members by assisting, supporting and holding released sex offenders accountable in their task of integrating with the community and leading responsible and productive lives. Each circle involves participation of carefully screened and trained volunteers who commit to supporting and holding accountable people we call “Core Members” as they return to community living. The Core members’ participation is voluntary. Today there are 16 CoSA sites across Canada.
Existing research (Wilson, Cortoni and McWhinnie, 2009; Also see research bibliography below) suggests that sexual recidivism rates for men who participate in CoSA are 80% lower for men who do not participate in CoSA. Significant reductions in all other types of recidivism has also been observed.
CCJC Involvement with CoSA
CCJC currently works in partnership with community agencies providing CoSA across Canada. Although CCJC is not a service provision organization, it is part of our mandate to support initiatives that promote restorative justice principles, such as CoSA.
Our current connection with CoSA began in 2008 when CCJC worked in collaboration with the Correctional Service of Canada to promote the fourth national gathering of CoSA sites in Calgary in 2008. (The report from this gathering is available in English and French).
The Calgary meeting, among other things provided an opportunity for dialogue between all CoSA sites to consider an inter-agency collaboration on a proposal for funding to Public Safety Canada’s National Crime Prevention Centre (NCPC) to conduct a national demonstration of CoSA. Since CoSA is not formally incorporated as a national group, CCJC was chosen as the umbrella organization to manage the resulting Contributions Agreement with the NCPC. After much work by all involved, both in preparing the proposal and advocating for its acceptance, the Circles of Support and Accountability National Demonstration Project received a five-year, 7.4 million dollar funding commitment to be distributed between the 14 participating CoSA sites.
CCJC’s role is to disburse NCPC’s contribution to 14 CoSA sites across Canada. With better funding, sites will be able to increase their capacity to work with sex offenders released into Canadian communities and therefore participate in a comprehensive evaluation of the program.
The goals of the National Demonstration Project are therefore:
1. To increase CoSA’s capacity aiming at providing service to an additional 50 core members per year;
2. To conduct an independent evaluation of CoSA’s effectiveness in reducing sexual recidivism.
Our goal is that, as a result of this National Demonstration Project, CoSA sites will be able to use the results of the evaluation to secure sustainable funding once the project is completed and their value is clearly demonstrated. With this new initiative, we expect to add to the existing evidence that community engagement in crime prevention is a valuable investment.
|Currently there are more than 182 Core Members participating in CoSA Circles and over 750 Volunteers across Canada.|
As of July, 2013, these volunteers had donated over 156,454 hours of their time in Circles/with Core Members.
External sites on CoSA:
Robin J. Wilson has compiled links to articles about CoSA and sexual offenders.
Cercles de soutien et de responsabilité