Circles of Support & Accountability
CoSA Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) is a community-based response for individuals who have been incarcerated for committing sexual offences, are being released into the community, and voluntarily seek out assistance in living a successful and crime-free life. In 2019, CoSA celebrated its 25th anniversary in Canada.
Micah has been providing CoSA programming since 2009. Since then, Micah has supported 57 core members and reduced sexual recidivism in our community at a rate above the national average. Micah’s success rates have increased over-time and since 2019 – 16 core members have successfully graduated from CoSA and continue to live safely and fruitfully in community. Only one core member has reoffended.
The CoSA Mission is to substantially reduce the risk of future sexual victimization by assisting and supporting released individuals in their task of integrating with the community and leading a responsible, productive, and accountable life. As a restorative justice measure focused specifically on supporting and holding to account those who have committed sexual offences, CoSA aims to: build safer and healthier communities; enable responsibility-taking for harmful actions and choices; generate an environment of empathy to better understand the experiences and needs of survivors of sexual harm; and support core members to learn and change.
HOW DO THE CIRCLES WORK?
A circle is made up of staff, 3-6 trained and screened volunteer community members, and the core member (CM). The circle is established for the benefit of both the CM, who voluntarily participates, and the community at large. All participants in the circle form a Circle Agreement which is regularly revisited to affirm the commitments made to each other. Constructive exchange and connection between the CM and the circle are facilitated through regular meetings. Circle members offer the CM assistance in finding housing and employment and provide practical and social supports that help prevent the isolation and other risk factors that might lead to re-offending. The circle assists the core member to recognize the impacts of past harmful choices, to cultivate empathy, and to take steps towards a fulfilling, pro-social, and safe life.
The circle models positive, healthy relating and constructive decision making, and challenges behaviours and/or attitudes that may prevent the core member from moving forward. Circle members assist the core member to understand and manage their personal risk factors, recognize their strengths, and develop new skills and self-understanding in a safe and inclusive environment – ensuring an integration of both support and accountability.
Circles model supportive, accountable relationships through establishing clear boundaries, ensuring a safe space for transparent and open communications, and revisiting circle goals, responsibilities and expectations on a regular basis. Honouring the circle’s aims and commitments promotes an environment of trust and respect over time between the core member and volunteers, ultimately helping to reduce the risk of breach or reoffence.
The circle aims to reconnect the core member with the wider community; it empowers and supports the core member to develop connections and over time, to establish and nurture lasting relationships outside the circle. A safe, successful, and engaged life builds skills, confidence, and a strong motivation to core members to remain crime-free.
I NEED A CoSA CIRCLE:
If you are residing in the community, contact our office by phone: 306.653.3099 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a meeting with our CoSA Administrator.
If you are in a correctional institution talk to your institutional social worker, institutional probation/parole officer, or chaplain for a referral.
I AM A PROFESSIONAL WHO WOULD LIKE TO REFER A CLIENT TO CoSA:
I WOULD LIKE TO VOLUNTEER:
Visit our Volunteer Page to apply!