Circles of Support and Accountability

“Reintegrating ex-offenders through mutual support and accountability”

HOW DO CIRCLES WORK?

An offender (core member) is surrounded by an inner circle of community volunteers, who meet weekly as a group through the first year of the core member’s release from prison. This inner circle exists in an outer circle of professionals, including the Circle Coordinator. Core members are selected for the best match for COSA and participate voluntarily.

WHY DO CIRCLES WORK?

  • Volunteers create a sense of mutual respect and obligation that could not be easily forged with paid staff
  • Circles fill a gap between programming and community based supervision
  • Circle members provide concrete support around stabilizing effects such as housing and employment
  • Circles enable the habits and culture that support desistance through the development of and modeling of normal and normative relationships
  • Circles create a context, which inhibits re-offending because of mutual obligations, monitoring risk in daily life, accountability to the community and reducing the incentive for crime because of creating a stake in conventional life.

For additional information see Vermont Evaluation Report by Kathryn Fox

KEYS TO SUCCESSFUL RE-ENTRY AND PUBLIC SAFETY

  • Empirically grounded assessments to guide case management
  • Sound transition and release plans
  • Risk-need based interventions
  • Balanced, change-promoting supervision strategies
  • Accurate monitoring and tracking
  • Research-informed laws and policies
  • Victim-responsive policies, strategies
  • Social ties, community supports
  • Prosocial activities
  • Stable, suitable employment
  • Stable, suitable, affordable housing

 For Additional information visit The National Reentry Resource Center

HOW DOES SOMEONE BECOME A COSA MEMBER?

  • A potential core member is referred to COSA by self, family, probation or parole, counselor or therapist, or partner agencies.
  • A potential core member will fill out an application and return it to COSA for further review and reference checks.
  • An interview with COSA leadership will determine eligibility and future steps for COSA participation.

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