Circles of Support and Accountability
The Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) program is a restorative justice circle model used for sex offender reintegration. Each circle is comprised of a “core member,” who is typically assessed as a ‘high-risk’ released sex offender, and 3-5 community volunteers who have the skill set and passion to work with this population.
A circle meets regularly, and a range of topics and activities are covered in the circle, with the focus being on keeping the offender accountable and providing support for both their basic and emotional needs. The Core Member commits to open communication with the group regarding his identified risk factors and triggers, problematic behaviour, attitudes, etc., all in an effort to end his pattern of sexual offending and to increase public safety.
Overall, the goals of the Circle are to:
- Support the Core Member’s community reintegration by facilitating his practical needs (i.e. access to medical services, social assistance/financial means, seeking employment/affordable housing, etc.) and by providing a consistent network of emotional support.
- Develop constructive and pro-social strategies and solutions to everyday problems and concerns as well as celebrate successes.
- Challenge the Core Member’s behaviours and attitudes that may be associated with his offending cycle.
The CoSA model exemplifies the belief that “No One is Disposable” and creates community safety by maintaining the goal of “No More Victims”. Existing research (Wilson, Cortoni and McWhinnie, 2009) demonstrates that sexual re-offending rates for men who participate in CoSA are 80% lower than for men who do not participate in CoSA!
Prince Albert is one of 14 sites across Canada that offers CoSA in the community. Find out more about CoSA and the network of CoSA’s across Canada by visiting cosacanada.com.
Information for Volunteering
Volunteer members come from all walks of life, ranging in age from 21 and up. They are professionally supported by Parkland staff, Board of Directors and advisors and work in conjunction with community agencies and treatment providers like psychologists, parole or probation officers, the police, and courts.
Volunteers receive comprehensive training before being placed in a circle, and are supported in the circle by PRJ staff at the beginning and when issues arise.
MAKE AN IMPACT
Positive social connection is the most powerful healing tool humans have. Volunteers with passion for engaging with those in our justice system with compassion and support are needed.
By becoming a volunteer in our programs, you will provide a positive social connection to those who are most isolated in our society.
“Participating in CoSA helped me to understand my behaviour better. It allowed me to share without judgement and be held accountable without feeling persecuted.”
– person who has offended sexually