Back to RJ Archive

Canada’s Circles of Support and Accountability: A Community Justice Initiative for High-risk Sex Offenders

Hannem, Stacey
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) Corrections Today. December: 98-101.

In 1986, legislation that was designed to keep high-risk offenders away from the public actually created a loophole that allowed certain high risk offenders to be released at the conclusion of their sentence without any community supervision requirement. Canadian authorities realized that releasing high risk offenders, especially those convicted of sex crimes against children, into a fearful and hostile community would not serve the public interest. As such, the COSA initiative came about with the understanding that community protection can be enhanced by a restorative approach that combines offender reintegration with a concern for public safety. The development of this approach in Canada came about as a result of public outcry following a high-profile case in which a released sex offender killed a child. COSA works by uniting four to seven trained team members in a covenant with a high-risk sex offender in order to provide the offender with assistance obtaining work, housing and recreation, social assistance, and community resources. The criteria for successful COSA’s include open communication between COSA team members and the criminal justice system. The COSA model requires a careful balance between reintegration and risk management concerns, but the effort provides enhanced community safety and valuable community reintegration services that help keep offenders from recidivating. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service,


AbstractCirclesCourtsNorth America and CaribbeanPolicePrisonsReentryRestorative PracticesRJ and the WorkplaceRJ in SchoolsRJ OfficeStatutes and LegislationTeachers and StudentsVictim Support
Support the cause

We've Been Restoring Justice for More Than 40 Years

Your donation helps Prison Fellowship International repair the harm caused by crime by emphasizing accountability, forgiveness, and making amends for prisoners and those affected by their actions. When victims, offenders, and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results are transformational.

Donate Now