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 ***Le texte français suit***


COSACircles 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.% of Time Supporting Core Members


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. Core Members History of Offending


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



Cliquez ici pour télécharger le Rapport du Rassemblement des CSR 2014

Cliquez ici pour télécharger le Rapport du Rassemblement des CSR 2013



Get Involved


As we reflect in these coming days upon the many blessings in our lives, may we consider those who have been impacted by the justice system - both victims and offenders. Many families are impacted by justice-involvement and this time of year can be hard for those who cannot be with their loved ones as a result.

CCJC puts justice that heals at the forefront of our mission and our vision to create positive change through restorative models of justice. Currently our work is focused on The Empathy Project, a victim-impact and empathy skills training program for incarcerated individuals.

Presently CCJC is developing a new curriculum for use in the Empathy Project. Two versions of the curriculum are in the process of being created. These curricula will be streamed to the specific needs of both men and women and will be created with 100% Canadian content as well as with a restorative justice context in mind. If this work interests you, we would be so grateful for your support.

As the season of giving is upon us, this Christmas, consider sharing empathy with someone in need by supporting The Empathy Project. We thank you for opening your hearts to this work.