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Circles of Support: A Restorative Justice Initiative

Wilson, Robin J
June 4, 2015

Source: (2001) In, Michael H. Miner and Eli Coleman, eds., Sex Offender Treatment: Accomplishments, Challenges, and Future Directions. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press, Inc. Pp. 59-77.

Conditional release in Canada has had a long history; however, recent shifts in policy reflect the community’s increasing intolerance for criminal behavior, particularly in regard to sexual offenders. Although maintaining offenders in prison for longer periods of time may satisfy some of the public’s desire for punishment and removal from society, the practice of limiting community supervision is a “double-edged sword.‿ Over the last 10 years, restorative justice has been widely recognized in Canada. Restorative justice is seen as a means to promote accountability of offenders. Restorative justice is defended as a more effective means of crime prevention than punitive approaches. This paper reviews the Canadian penal system and its handling of sex offenders, examines the increasing difficulties faced in community-based management of sexual offenders in Canada, and provides a brief overview of the restorative justice initiative, Circles of Support. The Circles of Support initiative managed by the Mennonite Central Committee of Ontario focuses on the need to engage the community in the offender’s reintegration process. Community volunteers are used to aid in the management of sex offender risk. This paper studied 30, federally sentenced, high-risk sexual offenders released at sentence completion and provided with community support in the form of Circles of Support and Accountability. Results of comparisons between projected and actual recidivism show that the group of offenders included in this analysis were recidivating at a rate less than 40 percent of that expected. This study used actuarial assessment, primarily of static variables, to predict a recidivism rate which was then compared to an actual recidivism rate. I Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service,


AbstractCirclesCourtsNorth America and CaribbeanPolicePrisonsReentryRJ in SchoolsRJ OfficeSex OffenseStatutes and Legislation
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