WHAT IS CIRCLES OF SUPPORT AND ACCOUNTABILITY?
Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) is a community-based initiative operating on restorative justice principles. CoSA assists individuals who have served a prison sentence for a sexual offence(s) in their effort to re-enter society. These individuals, who we refer to as Core Members, participate in the program voluntarily and are not mandated by the judicial system. CoSA-Ottawa is one of currently 18 Canadian cities operating CoSA programs, representing approximately 150 to 200 circles and 500 volunteers.
The Core Member and three to five trained and screened community volunteers comprise the Circle. They meet as a group and individually on a regular basis to:
- Support the Core Member’s community integration by facilitating his practical needs (i.e. access to medical services, social assistance, 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;
- Challenge the Core Member’s behaviours and attitudes that may be associated with his offending cycle.
- Celebrate successes.