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CoSA


Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA)

About Us | Resources | Get Involved | Upcoming Events | Contact Us


About the Circles of Support and Accountability
Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) follows a restorative justice model, with the goal of healing both individuals and a community after violent crime. The hope of CoSA is simple yet profound: No More Victims. The program works alongside the treatment and supervision that sex offenders are already provided, by offering practice in pro-social relationship building.

Here’s how the Circle works
An individual sex offender (the 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 is supported in turn by an outer circle of professionals, including the circle coordinator. Volunteers are provided with extensive training about sex offenders and safety. Core members are selected for the best match with the program and participate voluntarily.

CoSA

Volunteers in the CoSA inner circle model healthy relationships and socialization for the core member. Volunteers come from diverse backgrounds but with a shared commitment to the Circle. They start by together writing a covenant to guide their gatherings. They offer the ministry of friendship. This friendship doesn’t keep secrets, and it allows time for trust to deepen. CoSA volunteers understand the value of boundaries in relationships and model this with one another and the core member. 

Why CoSA Circles matter
Sex offenders face numerous unique challenges upon their release from prison, such as finding housing and employment, with a serious criminal record; in addition, their social connections have often been severed, by their offenses and by the length of incarceration. But isolation and secrecy can increase the offender’s likelihood of reoffending. CoSA aims to decrease that isolation, to help core members establish healthy relationships and find a source of hope to work toward.

Citizens are understandably concerned when a high-risk sex offender is released into a neighborhood. The vision of CoSA is that a community has the power to take part in the process of healing after the rupture of a sex offense. Sex offenses are not just private matters, and communities can play a role in decreasing future victimization.

Circles of Support and Accountability is a program that started 20 years ago in Ontario, Canada, and has since been replicated in cities across Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the United States. We are excited to bring CoSA to Multnomah County because they work—studies have shown recidivism rates decline by over 70 percent, and core members report gratitude for the social support they might never have found otherwise. CoSA circles are a powerful tool for our community response to the fact of sex offending in our midst, to help reduce harm and prevent crime. Together, we can work for a future with no more victims.

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Resources: Learn More about Circles of Support and Accountability

Background about CoSA:
•  Analysis of CoSA effectiveness 
•  Effectiveness of CoSA in Vermont 
•  CoSA Trainer Andrew McWhinnie  
•  CoSA Trainer Dr. Robin Wilson 

Articles about CoSA:
•  “Courageous Communities”  
•  “Making friends with a pedophile”   
•  “Does 'befriending' sex offenders stop new crimes?”   

CoSA programs around the world:
•  CoSA in Durham, North Carolina  
•  CoSA in the United Kingdom  
•  CoSA in Minneapolis 

Learn more about sexual abuse:
•  The Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence (SAIV)  
•  Oregon Abuse Advocates and Survivors in Service (OAASIS)  
•  Boys Don't Tell    
•  Pastoral Preparation to Respond to Abuse

Congregational resources
•  Commissioning Services and other ways for congregations to support their CoSA volunteers – coming soon!

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Get Involved

Volunteer
Circles of Support and Accountability is possible only because of community volunteers committed to reducing harm and helping prevent future victimization. Join one of our CoSA circles and make a meaningful difference in your community today by filling out an online interest form. For more information about volunteering, contact Rev. Audrey deCoursey at (503) 988-8580 or adecoursey@emoregon.org.

Send me more information
Keep updated about the progress of EMO’s CoSA program by filling out an online interest form.

Subscribe to CoSA's monthly e-mail newsletter!

* indicates required

I want to support restorative justice
• Congregations and Individuals can help support restorative justice, the movement that drives Circles of Support and Accountability. Join our growing network of restorative justice advocates by filling out an online interest form.
• Bring a speaker to your faith community.
• Advocate for public policy that restores justice for whole communities.
• Make a secure online donation; be sure to designate your gift to CoSA.

Thank you for helping our communities to have No More Victims.

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Upcoming Events

October 17
Circles of Support and Accountability: Community Information Session.
5 to 8 p.m. at the Interchurch Center, Pamplin Conference Room, 0245 SW Bancroft St., Portland (directions). Learn about Circles of Support and Accountability in Oregon (CoSA) at an open community information session with Dr. Robin Wilson, Andrew McWhinnie, and Multnomah County CoSA Program Coordinator Rev. Audrey deCoursey. Any and all community supporters and potential volunteers are invited to this evening program. Meet others interested in restorative justice and help launch this important program for our state. To RSVP, contact Audrey deCoursey at (503) 988-8580 or cosa@emoregon.org.

October 18
Circles of Support and Accountability: Volunteer Training.
9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Interchurch Center, Hughes Conference Room, 0245 SW Bancroft St., Portland (directions). Join us for an introductory training in Circles of Support and Accountability with Dr. Robin Wilson and Andrew McWhinnie. Learn how to be an effective volunteer to help prevent victimization and protect our communities by forming positive social support for high-risk sex offenders coming out of prison. CoSA is simple yet profound: No More Victims. CoSA follows a restorative justice model, working alongside the treatment and supervision sex offenders are already provided, by offering practice in pro-social relationship building. Community volunteers meet regularly with a sex offender through the first year of release from prison, to prevent the isolation that can raise the risk of re-offending. To RSVP, contact Audrey deCoursey at (503) 988-8580 or cosa@emoregon.org.

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Contact Us
Rev. Audrey deCoursey
Program Coordinator, Circles of Support and Accountability
Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon
In partnership with the Dept. of Community Justice, Multnomah County
421 SW Fifth Avenue, ARC, 3rd Floor, Portland, Oregon 97204
Phone: (503) 988-8580 (office), (971) 279-9724 (cell)
Fax: (503) 988-4898
adecoursey@emoregon.org

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