Source: (2007) The Howard Journal. 46(3):289-302.

This study presents evaluation data from the Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA) pilot project in South-Central Ontario, Canada – specifically regarding the effect that COSA has had on the community and those personally involved in the project. Results suggest that the COSA initiative has had a profound effect on all stakeholders: offenders, community volunteers, affiliated professionals, and the community-at-large. Being involved in a COSA appears to have greatly assisted many high-risk sexual offenders released to the community in remaining crime-free, with many reporting that they likely would have returned to offending without help from COSA. Community volunteers involved in the project reported a perceived increase in community safety as a result of COSA, as well as a belief that Core Members were motivated to succeed in the community. Professionals and agencies (for example, police officers, social services professionals, administrators, and other similar professionals) identified increased offender responsibility and accountability, as well as enhanced community safety. Survey results obtained from members of the community-at-large showed substantial increases in perceived community safety in knowing that high-risk sexual offenders in the community were involved in the project. The results of this study are discussed within a framework of empowering communities to participate in the effective risk management of released sexual offenders. (author's abstract)