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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.


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 and Cost Benefit of CoSA in Minnesota 
•  Effectiveness of CoSA in Vermont 
•  Effectiveness of CoSA in Canada
•  CoSA Trainer Andrew McWhinnie  
•  CoSA Trainer Dr. Robin Wilson 

Articles about CoSA:
•   Durham's CoSA project featured by Penzey's Spices - with recipes!
•  “Courageous Communities”  
•  “Making friends with a pedophile”   
•  “Does 'befriending' sex offenders stop new crimes?”   

CoSA programs around the world:
•  CoSA in Fresno, California
•  CoSA in Durham, North Carolina  
•  CoSA in the United Kingdom  
•  CoSA in Minneapolis 
•  CoSA in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

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
•  The Center for Trauma Support Services

Learn more about sexual abusers and treatment:
•  Dr. James Cantor on psychology of pedophilia  - video
•  8 Things Everyone Should Know about Sexual Abuse and Sexual Offending, from ATSA
•  How we all can be involved in preventing sexual violence, from ATSA
•  Public Policy to prevent child abuse, from ATSA

Restorative Justice (RJ), the framework for CoSA:
•  RJ in a nutshell - video
•  Neuroscience of RJ - video
•  NPR article on finding hope in restorative healing after crime

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

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Get Involved

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

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

December 10
Restorative Justice Networking Night: Honor Totem screening.
5 to 7 p.m. at the Interchurch Center, Pamplin Room, 0245 SW Bancroft St, Portland. Please join us to meet others passionate about restorative justice, as we watch a powerful film about healing after police brutality. From the Seattle Channel, Honor Totem documents the creation of the John T. Williams Memorial Totem Pole project in Seattle "as a catalyst for healing and justice. The community art project rose from the August 2010 fatal police shooting of Williams, a First Nations woodcarver. The slain man`s older brother Rick Williams chose a peaceful response through an ambitious endeavor to carve a 34-foot totem pole in honor of the Williams family`s artistic legacy and the memory of one of its most talented carvers. After the film, you are invited to share in a heart-felt conversation to reflect and consider how we can take action in our own communities for justice for indigenous communities and others impacted by violence. This free event will include beverages and refreshments. Please RSVP to or (503) 988-8580.

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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

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