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Criminology: Circles of Support and Accountability Essay

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Background information

The Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA) model of reintegration inducts sexual offenders into mainstream thresholds of societal engagement. The initiative targets individuals who have undergone imprisonment for sex-related offences (Wilson, 2009). In most cases, it rehabilitates sex offenders into society through activities that restore their lost glory. Most sex offenders encounter difficulty as they strive to reintegrate and fit into society. Such challenges emanate from stigma that society ascribes to such patterns of behaviour. Participation is usually voluntary and does not suffice as a mandatory judicial requirement with regard to social offenders (Wilson, 2009).

There has been extensive discourse regarding the overall essence and rationale for such programmes in social contexts. Proponents of such initiatives argue that they support restoration of justice and fairness in societal contexts. Prior to its initiation and propagation in Canada, there was national outcry regarding the plight of sexual offenders who had to reintegrate into society (Wilson, 2009). Criminologists cited numerous instances where sex offenders relapsed into crime after completing their term in prison. Such realities prompted establishment of a programme that sought to bridge disparities that manifested with regard to issues surrounding sex offences and restoration of justice in Canada (Wilson, 2009).

Core members must exhibit willingness to revise existential parameters in order to establish new patterns of behaviour. Their voluntary involvement gives credence to the premise that anchors restoration of justice and reintegration into society. Society often views sex offenders with apprehension because of previous patterns of behaviour within social contexts (Wilson, 2009). In most cases, society fails to accept offenders into social agency. This reality leads them into self-destructive habits that ultimately drive them back into the turbulent world of crime. Most sex offenders encounter rejection and segregation due to negative perceptions regarding their past patterns of behaviour (Wilson, 2009).

COSA reflects the recurrent desire for society to integrate and incorporate offenders into mainstream societal engagements. During its inception, critics relayed sceptical nuances to discredit efforts that geared towards incorporation and rehabilitation of sex offenders. They argued that such efforts would not bear fruits because such offenders are usually beyond repair and rehabilitation (Wilson, 2009). They sought to discourage proponents by casting doubts regarding pertinent areas such as funding, oversight, and regulation. However, it is important to note that this programme continues to record success due to numerous internal mechanisms that enhance activities and operations within various ranks that define its existence (Wilson, 2009).

Essence and rationale for the programme

As earlier mentioned, COSA relays assistance and guidance to sex offenders upon completion of terms in prison. In most cases, it targets habitual offenders who hold higher risk of recidivism (Wilson, 2009). However, it is important to note that such involvement is voluntary and does not suffice as judicial or statutory prerequisite for release or reintegration into society. Once an individual joins the programme, they immediately receive assistance towards actualization and propagation of ideals that facilitates their reformation (Wilson, 2009).

Participants are core members of the initiative because they enjoy tutelage from three to five members of their community. They mentor and offer support in order to reintegrate and inculcate offenders into societal undertakings. In order to qualify as mentors, individuals are required to uphold dignity and good conduct. Such community volunteers dedicate efforts and resources towards rehabilitating and offering support to sex offenders. This is possible through constant meetings and conventions that facilitate sharing and delivery of information (Wilson, 2009).

COSA meetings usually deliberate on diverse issues that determine integration of offenders into mainstream society. They facilitate realization of daily needs that suffice in social contexts. For instance, they arrange for access to amenities such as healthcare and insurance facilities (Glasgow, 2008). They also offer assistance in crucial areas such as official emolument, provision of shelter, social services, and other components that cater for daily human livelihood in society. During meetings, programme coordinators determine personalized areas that require attention in order to facilitate realization and actualization through favourable avenues (Glasgow, 2008).

It is important to note that most meetings revolve around issues that impact on the welfare and propagation of core members within social contexts. Peripheral members and constituents of such meetings act as support frameworks that ultimately facilitate integration and acceptance into society. Meetings usually develop social strategies that devise proactive measures with regard to challenges affecting core members. In this particular instance, core members suffice as the most important aspect of the programme because they bolster the overall rationale and essence of the programme (Glasgow, 2008).

Most sex offenders experience numerous challenges that jeopardize their overall existence in society. This reality necessitates deliberate action towards ameliorating existential parameters in social contexts. Delivery of strategic solutions requires positivity and ability to realize areas that warrant action with regard to the propagation of sex offenders after completion of their terms in correctional facilities (Glasgow, 2008).

Devoid of such efforts, it would be difficult for authorities to account for the lives of offenders after they exit prison. Due to the successful nature of this programme, authorities should devise rational systems that guarantee its actualization and sustenance. For instance, legislators should allocate more funds in order to support operations within and without the programme. In absence of proper funding, it would be difficult for project coordinators to pursue avenues that strengthen and bolster operations within its area of operation (Glasgow, 2008).

It is important for experts to demystify various thought processes that characterize different behaviour in society. Young people face numerous challenges that ultimately drive them into destructive patterns of behaviour and conduct in society (Glasgow, 2008). COSA evaluates such attitudes and perceptions in order to determine appropriate action that could aid in diffusing and pre-empting such patterns of behaviour. It is important to note that this programme halts offending cycles that undermine reintegration into various societal ranks (Glasgow, 2008). It also invokes active participation by offenders in order to get first hand facts that ultimately lead to successful realization of basic ideals and aspirations that characterize the operations of the programme. During meetings, members recognize areas that record success and appreciate those that warrant various forms of improvement (Glasgow, 2008).

They sanction core members to offer valid explanations that justify the overall desire for integration and involvement in societal activities. They constantly assess progress and willingness to revise previous patterns of behaviour and engagement in social contexts. It is necessary for programme leaders to hone a culture of transparency and accountability in order to facilitate realization of core ideals and aspirations that characterize similar initiatives with regard to society and its associative entities (Glasgow, 2008).

The history of COSA model of reintegration

This model of reintegration commenced its Canadian operations in 1994. Its initialization and propagation sufficed through efforts spearheaded by pastor Harry Nigh, through his association with a man who had habitually fell into cycles of sexual offences (Dobrow, 2004). Harry sought to understand and demystify parametrical thresholds that determined such habitual cycles of sexual offence. He further sought to understand the role of society in eradicating such destructive cycles of abuse. According to Harry, it was evident that most habitual sex offenders had difficulty finding appropriate levels of acceptance within social contexts (Dobrow, 2004).

For instance, they had difficulty accessing basic amenities and services such as healthcare, food, water, and shelter. He thought that such circumstances could have been responsible for high rates of recidivism with regard to habitual sex offenders. Harry mobilized stakeholders in his ministry in order to devise structural frameworks that could support rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders into mainstream societal engagements (Dobrow, 2004). They formulated a support group that sought to engage sex offenders and facilitate livelihood and existence in society after completing terms in prison. In order to sustain operations, they applied for funding from church and state agencies. The Mennonite Central Committee of Ontario availed funds towards realization and formulation of the support group (Dobrow, 2004). The committee realized need for such noble undertakings in order to guarantee sustainability with regard to reintegration of sexual offenders. The pastor and his support group received additional funding from Correctional Service Canada (CSC) (Dobrow, 2004).

Such support enabled drafting of mechanisms and structures that ultimately led to establishment of a nationwide programme that offered support to sex offenders within society. The programme continues to record vigorous expansion into other countries such as the United Kingdom. The United States also supports COSA programmes in its various jurisdictional entities (Dobrow, 2004). France, Netherlands, and New Zealand have plans to create and actualize such programmes within their jurisdictions. Through the COSA model, there has been hope for thousands of sex offenders who find it difficult to reinvent and fit into mainstream societal engagements (Dobrow, 2004).

The model offers an opportunity for sex offenders to revise existential parameters in order to attain new patterns of behaviour in society. This enables them to associate with individuals who inspire and motivate them to change and create fresh impetus for moral conduct within society. Through its activities, COSA offers opportunity for sex offenders to engage in societal activities and operations without fear of apprehension or retribution (Dobrow, 2004). It sensitizes community members on need for positive attitudes towards offenders who seek to reintegrate into society after completing jail terms. According to experts, most sex offenders experience mental and emotional instability. Such realities affect their ability to conform and align to societal ideals and aspirations (Dobrow, 2004).

They encounter numerous challenges as they pursue normal operations within society. This happens due to stigma and segregation that suffices with regard to their predicament and position in society. Support groups are very important because they offer medical and counselling services that guarantee successful integration into society (Dobrow, 2004). Society should learn to support and encourage sex offenders to develop new skills and learn various coping strategies that enhance and facilitate their integration into society. Many sex offenders retreat into crime because of the hostility they face after exiting correctional facilities. This makes it difficult for them to realize and master full potential in areas that define existence in social contexts (Dobrow, 2004).

Validation of COSA model of reintegration

Since inception of COSA model of reintegration, there has been discourse with regard to its essence and rationale. Government and community agencies continue to quantify benefits that arise from such support programmes within social contexts (Lee, 2006). They strive to understand how involvement in such entities leads to low levels of recidivism among high-risk sex offenders. It is evident that offenders who involve themselves in activities within such groups have lower chances for unpleasant behaviour within social contexts. One reason for such reality emanates from the benefits and satisfaction they receive from support groups (Lee, 2006).

For instance, they benefit from material provisions that alleviate recurrent physical needs. Besides material provisions, offenders receive psychosocial support that allows them to integrate and fit into society (Lee, 2006). In most cases, sex offenders suffer emotional and psychological distress that jeopardizes their willingness to change and revise existential parameters. Most high-risk sex offenders encounter emotional and psychological challenges that undermine overall efforts towards reintegration and harmonious coexistence within social contexts. Support groups are integral in offering direction with regard to reintegration into community life (Lee, 2006).

In recent past, there have been studies that sought to establish the validity of models of integration within social contexts. One such study preoccupied with frequency with regard to recidivism among high-risk sex offenders in Canada (Lee, 2006). It drew comparison between COSA members and other high-risk offenders who did not subscribe to any form of support group within their communities. They sought to establish recurrent connections between social support and reintegration. Previous studies had shown correlation between social support and low rates of recidivism. This particular study devised structural regimes that facilitated probe into parametrical thresholds that govern reintegration into society (Lee, 2006).

It propagated comparison between members of COSA model and those who did not benefit from such services. It comprised 60 sex offenders who were actively involved in reintegration efforts through COSA support group. The study considered realities that govern participation and sustenance within such groups. It investigated nature and scope of services that suffice with regard to such groups. In order to establish accurate findings and outcomes, researchers interacted with offenders through groups or contact persons (Lee, 2006). They conducted interviews and other engagements with a view to establish overall relevance and implication of support on high-risk sex offenders in society. The study applied pertinent parameters such as length of period spent in jail, levels of risk, involvement in communal activities, and individual desire for change and reintegration into society (Lee, 2006).

This research exercise lasted four years. During that period, experts interrogated various aspects of sex offenders and their coping strategies with regard to changes in existence within different social settings. Results that sufficed in this exercise showed that offenders who subscribed to any form of support groups had little chance for recidivism due to values and influence they receive from support networks (Lee, 2006). Results showed low rates of reoffending and willingness to engage in criminal activities. Members of COSA exhibited high levels of optimism and desire for change with regard to existence and propagation in social contexts (Lee, 2006). They portrayed desire for closure regarding previous cycles of crime. There was evidence of reduced rates of sex recidivism among offenders who participated in COSA activities. Besides sex recidivism, there was evidence of reduction in other forms of offences that characterized previous cycles of criminal engagements. The study was integral in offering fresh impetus towards validation of models of reintegration within social contexts (Lee, 2006).

The second research undertaking put emphasis on realities that characterize existence of sexual offenders within Canadian society. It sought to understand how various factors enhance development and propagation with regard to recurrent cycles of sexual offences within social contexts. This study correlated with previous ones regarding orientation and focus on fluctuations in rates of recidivism among offenders (Lee, 2006). It focused on basic tenets that sufficed with regard to the pilot project in Ontario, Canada. The methodology of this study was similar to the first study that had centred on similar concerns and attitudes. Its major preoccupation was devising comparisons between COSA offenders and those who were not associated with any form of support through community and social entities (Lee, 2006).

In order to guarantee accuracy and precision, the second study did not enlist core members of the inaugural project. This sought to create disparities and points of convergence with regard to research outcomes. This particular study revealed outcomes that gave credence to earlier sentiments on the essence and rationale for models of reintegration. Outcomes revealed low rates of sex recidivism as opposed to other forms of offences. This showed that models of reintegration had a role to play in enhancing harmonious coexistence and incorporation into social contexts (Lee, 2006).

Relevance of the COSA model of reintegration

COSA model of reintegration is an important facet within systems that seek to guarantee restoration of justice in society. Most models of reintegration fail to actualize pertinent ideals due to constraints that afflict their operative networks. Such models do not fulfil their mandate with regard to rehabilitation and restoration of offenders into society (Wilson, 2007). However, the Circles of Support and Accountability model offers offenders an opportunity to revise their patterns of behaviour in order to ensure and guarantee reintegration into society. This model continues to elicit discourse among observers who seek to understand and demystify its operations. Their efforts gear towards demystifying internal structural frameworks that support sustenance and propagation of its services within diverse contexts (Wilson, 2007).

Most people appreciate difficulties and challenges that manifest within organizations and groups that rehabilitate habitual offenders. Indeed, COSA model is unique and special because it harbours internal mechanisms that facilitate reintegration and sustenance in social contexts. The model is efficient because it deals with individuals who desire change and integration (Wilson, 2007). Its voluntary membership programme ensures that members are dedicated and willing to change recurrent patterns of behaviour. The model uses people who have proper reputation in society. Such individuals suffice as mentors and role models. They guide sex offenders and create impetus for change and re-evaluation, especially on areas that characterize previous patterns of abuse and disregard for legal provisions that guide human behaviour in social contexts (Wilson, 2007).

It is important for such models to enlist services that add value to overall ideals and aspirations within their settings. Sex offenders require proper tutelage to guarantee and support reintegration and existence within society. Their social disposition does not satisfy inherent societal values because they lack respect for humanity and rule of law. Therefore, it is important for such models to inculcate and hone values that underlie human existence in society. Devoid of such efforts, models of reintegration cannot satisfy expectations that guide sustenance and propagation in social contexts (Wilson, 2007).

As earlier mentioned, COSA model of reintegration is successful and relevant in its area of operation within society. Its success emanates from proper management and support within diverse contexts. The model has support from government and correctional authorities. Government agencies appreciate its role in restoring justice in society (Wilson, 2007). Its core functions and modalities revolve around rehabilitation and restoration of habitual sex offenders. Most of these offenders feel aggrieved by treatment that they receive from society due to previous patterns of abuse and disregard for the law. Therefore, it is important for models of reintegration to consider such realities and offer reprieve to individuals. This can only happen through concerted efforts that gear towards creation and propagation of structural and institutional frameworks that support such undertakings (Wilson, 2007).

Such structures should offer opportunity for offenders to pursue constructive activities that enhance revision and pursuit of conventional behaviours that suffice in society. This model is successful because its structural framework is inclusive and participative. Under this model, sex offenders participate voluntarily without any form of coercion (Wilson, 2007). Indeed, freedom is an important condiment with regard to sustaining relations with offenders who have spent long periods in prison. Any feeling of oppression or undue repression could lead to withdrawal and other forms of adverse reactions. Success of this model of reintegration emanates from its ability to recognize basic realities that characterize sex offenders in diverse contexts. This enables it to reintegrate offenders and ultimately record low rates of recidivism (Wilson, 2007).

Due to successful propagation of COSA programmes within Canada, other countries have begun efforts to replicate its essence within their respective jurisdictions. For instance, most jurisdictions within the United States have similar programmes that seek to guarantee rehabilitation and reintegration of high-risk offenders into society. Such jurisdictions find it necessary because they have a lot to learn from the Canadian model of reintegration (Wilson, 2007). This is an important area of interest because it supports replication and propagation of similar programmes within the region and beyond. Other countries must replicate the COSA model because it exhibits high rates of success with regard to rehabilitation and reintegration into society. Through such efforts, they will benefit and guarantee progress in restoration of justice in respective jurisdictions (Wilson, 2007).

It is important to recognize that the COSA model revolves around creation of institutional and structural frameworks that enhance rehabilitation and reintegration of sex offenders into mainstream society. The model continues to yield positive outcomes because there are low rates of sex recidivism and other related forms of criminal activities. This is possible through concerted efforts towards creation and propagation of appropriate mechanisms that support such undertakings (Wilson, 2007).

Effective march 31 2013, the Canadian federal government plans to reduce funding that goes towards the COSA programme. The government cites various reasons that characterize evaluation and revision of parameters with regard to such programmes (Peck, 2013). It is unwise of the federal government to reduce funding for this initiative because it could undermine efforts that gear towards rehabilitation of habitual sex offenders. This could also affect the plight of sex offenders who are currently active within the initiative (Peck, 2013).

In fact, the government should channel more funds into correctional facilities in order to ensure and guarantee delivery of appropriate services that support rehabilitation and reintegration of habitual sex offenders into mainstream operations within society (Peck, 2013). Reduction of funding could undermine current efforts that seek to bolster operations with regard to sustenance and propagation of models of reintegration and rehabilitation. It is important for the government to support such initiatives because they contribute to success with regard to restoration of justice in society (Peck, 2013).

Conclusion

There has been extensive discourse regarding overall essence and rationale for such programmes in social contexts. Proponents of such initiatives argue that they support restoration of justice and fairness in societal contexts (Peck, 2013). Prior to its initiation and propagation in Canada, there was national outcry regarding plight of sexual offenders who had to reintegrate into society. COSA model offers opportunity for such offenders to regain proper participation with regard to societal undertakings. The federal government should encourage propagation of such programmes in order to guarantee systems that support reintegration and fusion into social contexts (Peck, 2013).

References

Dobrow, M. (2004). Evidence Based Criminal Policy: Context and Utilisation. Soc. Sci. Med., 58(4), 207–17. Web.

Glasgow, R. (2008). Types of Evidence Most Needed to Advance Behavioural Change Among Sex Offenders. Ann. Behav.Med., 35(8), 19–25. Web.

Lee, D. (2006). A Multicenter Retrospective Pilot Study of Attitudes Associated with High Risk Sexual Offenders. Archives of Criminal Justice, 27(3), 12-19. Web.

Peck, J. (2013). The Impact of Reintegration on High-risk Sexual Offenders in Canada. Journal of Criminal Justice, 12(6), 81-106. Web.

Wilson, R. (2007). Evaluating the Effectiveness of Professionally Facilitated Volunteerism in the Community Based Management of High Risk Sexual Offenders: A Comparison of Recidivism Rates. Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 46(7), 327-337. Web.

Wilson, R. (2009). Circles of Support & Accountability: A Canadian National Replication of Outcome Findings. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research & Treatment, 21(12), 412-430. Web.

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