Results and Relevant Research:
The CoSA model can do amazing things when it’s done right – – here are results from two separate studies of Canadian CoSA projects:
Wilson, Pacheca & Prinzo (2005):
- Compared 60 CoSA core members to 60 nonparticipants
- Matched all 120 people on a number of measures to ensure equivalence
- Found that sex offending behavior in CoSA group was 70% lower than the control group
- Also found that violent offending behavior was 57% lower in CoSA group, and general re-offenses were 35% lower
Wilson, Cortonni & McWhinnie (2009):
- Compared 44 CoSA core members to 44 nonparticipants
- Similar matching strategy to ensure equivalence
- Found that sex offending behavior in CoSA group was 83% lower than the control group!
- Also found that violent offending behavior was 73% lower in CoSA group, and general re-offenses were 72% lower
- Theory: Wilson & his colleagues have forwarded the stance that Circles of Support & Accountability provide people convicted of sex offenses with pro-social sources of support that can counter the negative effects of societal rejection and isolation. Wilson, et al, remarked on how this relates to the Risk / Needs / Responsivity Model as well as Good Lives, in which a focus on strengths and capabilities and related skill-building can reduce the likelihood of re-offenses.
Other benefits gleaned from CoSA implementation include:
- ACCURATE INFORMATION being provided to communities about the nature of sexual offenses, actual re-offense statistics and proven ways of preventing recidivism.
- TRUE, HUMANE INTEGRATION of the core member into the community where he was released, with a good opportunity to live a law-abiding, healthy & accountable life.
Another interesting study has been completed in 2012 in the United Kingdom by Elliot & Beech, where the cost of participation in CoSA was compared to the cost of re-offense – the researchers found that the cost of re-offense is more than 12 times the cost of a well-run CoSA program. Where that CoSA program is able to reduce the re-offense rate by 50%, or 70%, or 84% (as found in the Wilson research above), there are significant and tangible cost savings to taxpayers. The intangibles – saving people from the pain of victimization and years of recovery, the transference of that pain to entire generations – are more difficult to quantify but are estimated to be vast.
Circles of Support & Accountability work AND they save the community money as well as heartache – – this is good stuff.
COSA Project Information & Resources
- Dr. Robin Wilson’s Overview of CoSA Effectiveness Research – http://www.robinjwilson.com/circles.shtml
- Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment – http://sajrt.blogspot.com/2012/12/cosa-in-usa-and-beyond.html
- A Guide to Colorado Circles of Support & Accountability
- Colorado CoSA Brochure