Source: (2004) Corrections Today Magazine. 66(5): 132-133, to 140.

Public concern over the release of sex offenders into the community with no supervision requirements led a small church to form a CoSA group to assist the offender and to assure the public safety. While most CoSA groups in Canada are faith-based groups, there is no requirement that the groups be faith-based. The CoSA program works by accepting high-risk sex offenders newly released from prison into the group at the core member. The CoSA groups, including offenders, meet regularly for 2 to 3 hours; there are also daily check-in responsibilities that allow the offender immediate access to two or three group members when the offender needs support. Informal support is offered through telephone calls and activities such as shopping trips. CoSA members are volunteers who are trained and have usually committed themselves to the program for at least 1 year. Decisions within the CoSA group are made by consensus and, upon release from prison the offender agrees to abide by all the conditions set out by the CoSA group. Evidence and testimonials are offered that illustrate the effectiveness of CoSA groups in Canada. CoSA groups are reshaping how corrections is viewed in Canada and the practical support offered to high-risk sex offenders is viewed as necessary for both the public safety and the successful transition of the offender back into the community. Over the next 10 years it will be important to build a base of evidence showing how CoSA groups contribute to the overall well-being of the community and newly released offenders. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.org.