Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) is a community-oriented, restorative-justice based reintegration program that assists people in their effort to re-enter society after a period of incarceration for a sexual offence.
These people, referred to as Core Members, participate in the program voluntarily and are not mandated by the judicial system.
A “Circle” involves a group of three to five screened, trained volunteers who commit themselves to support and hold accountable the Core Member who is more often than not labelled high risk to re-offend. Because he has been held to the end of his sentence, he is returning to the community with little or no support available to him and often with much media attention.

The Circle meets together regularly and is guided by a written and signed agreement called a Covenant. Volunteers also provide assistance with re-entry challenges (housing, employment, medical attention, etc). The Core Member commits to open communication with the group regarding his identified risk factors, problematic behaviour, attitudes, etc., all in an effort to end his pattern of sexual offences and increase public safety.

Volunteer members come from all walks of life, ranging in age from 21 and up. They are professionally supported and work in conjunction with community agencies, treatment providers like psychologists, parole or probation officers, the police, and the courts.

Our mission statement is to substantially reduce the risk of future sexual victimization of community members by assisting and supporting released individuals in integrating with the community and leading responsible, productive, and accountable lives.

Our bottom line is: No More Victims

 

DOES IT WORK?

COSA participants from a national replication sample (Wilson, Cortoni & McWhinnie, 2009), had 83% less sexual reoffending (1 vs. 6), 73% less violent reoffending (4 vs. 15), and 71% less reoffending of any kind (5 vs. 17) than the matched comparison group.

Furthermore, in looking at the actual total number of new charges and convictions incurred by the two groups (as opposed to the number of offenders who recidivated), the COSA group incurred 74% fewer charges and convictions (17 vs. 73) than the comparison group. Wilson, R.J., Cortoni, F. and McWhinnie, A.J. (2009).

Circles of Support & Accountability: A Canadian National Replication of Outcome Findings. SEX ABUSE: A Journal of Research and Treatment 21(4) 412-430.

JOIN US

CoSA is based in and relies upon volunteerism and community connections. There are two circles that support a Core Member; the inner circle of trained volunteers, and the outer circle of professionals who support, train and guide the inner circle. If you are interested in getting involved in the inner or outer circle, we want to hear from you. Please contact the CoSA Coordinator at cosa@monctonchaplaincy.com or 506-851-6384.

Inner Circle Volunteers:

  •  Mediate on behalf of the core member with the community
    (eg. neighbours, church, media, police, social services, victims’ groups)
  •  Advocate for the rights of the core member with various systems
    (eg. police, treatment professionals, courts)
  •  Confront the core member about behaviour or attitudes that cause concern
  •  Walk with Core Member through emergencies
  •  Celebrate anniversaries, milestones and small victories
  •  Provide friendship and support to the core member
  •  Assist with living skill development
  •  Help provide a healthy social environment
  •  Respect confidentiality within the’ circle’
  •  Respect the no secrets rule
  •  Support the other volunteers

Outer Circle Volunteers support the inner circle in many ways. They can provide training throughout the year in related areas (communication, small group dynamics, addictions, mental health). They can serve on the advisory committee, providing guidance in difficult situations and support in challenging emotional circumstances. They can give office support, or be involved in community outreach. The possibilities are endless; if you want to help CoSA in any way, please let us know.

 

This population also needs stable housing, basic needs supported, access to a variety of community services, & plain ordinary friendships & mentors. The successful support and reintegration initiatives serve everyone.

The economy needs productive workers; these ex-offenders need work – they need to be given a chance to be employed and to have hope. The circles of support & accountability is one program that seeks to provide these needed services.

My previous work experience in crime prevention, my own PhD research with children & youth at-risk, & my years of volunteering as a community mentor for young offenders & older ex-offenders that some of the best things one can do to support both the personal growth & thriving of the ex/offender & to prevent crime is to help such vulnerable populations to reintegrate healthily into society.

Cathy Rogers

From having served on the Board of Directors for a few years, and knowing the hearts of the staff and board members, it is my pleasure to provide my personal perspective on the value of the work of the Chaplaincy program in the Greater Moncton area. I highly recommend involvement as a volunteer or financial contributor to this worthy, nonprofit organization that seeks to restore hope & life to those whose hope & life has been compromised.