CoSA implementation in the United States
Following-on from Ian McPhail’s post regarding the value of Circles of Support and Accountability and the recent announcements about its funding in Canada, this post presents an infographic outlining the key findings from our NIJ-funded evaluability study of CoSA provision in the United States.
I too, am saddened to hear about the potential elimination of funding for CoSA in Canada – CoSA’s spiritual home (although some are reporting that the CSC is considering an about-turn). In the NIJ report, my colleagues and I outlined some serious concerns about the kinds of rhetoric that is often found in discussions around CoSA: references to CoSA as ‘highly-effective’ or ‘proven’ – none of which are factually true, yet. Nevertheless, the fact remains that CoSA is by far the most promising program available for the management of offenders at the highest measureable levels of risk for recidivism – a group of individuals whose anticipated time in the community before failure (reoffending) is typically counted in days and weeks, not months and years.
On this basis, our recommendations for CoSA in the USA were for greater investment in rigorous evaluation [pdf], not for the demise of one of the few examples of truly community-led investment in criminal justice. Not only does it make little policy sense to abandon CoSA at a point at which it has demonstrated its potential, it would be a grave disservice to those communities who have refused to succumb to scare-mongering and public vitriol towards sex offenders and have chosen to accept an active and positive stake in the rehabilitation of its civic peers.
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