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Inside an innovative program helping sex offenders reintegrate into society – and why it works

[ – 5/10/20]

In recent years, the biggest increases in Australia’s prison population have come from people convicted of sexual offences. From 2017-18, this segment of the prison population increased by 10%. The following year, it was up again by 7%.

As a corollary, more and more sexual offenders are being released from prisons back to our communities. Understandably, a great deal of public concern often accompanies the release of sexual offenders, especially those who have committed offences against children.

Despite this, very few programs exist to support sexual offenders as they reintegrate into the community, thereby making society safer by reducing their risk of reoffending.

Our recent research examined one rare exception: Adelaide’s Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) program.

Because it is vital to understand how victim/survivors of sexual violence feel about the release of offenders from prison and their reintegration into society, we also interviewed 33 of them in our work.

Our study was the first of its kind; no prior research has been conducted on this topic in Australia.

Read the full article


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Fear pandering and patronizing articles like this do nothing to advance change.

“Understandably, a great deal of public concern often accompanies the release of sexual offenders”

Mob mentality doesn’t mean you are right!

It supposedly “works” because 90%+ of registrants aren’t inclined to repeat their offenses in the first place and most of the volunteer administrators of this program are less inclined to report trivialities like passing a school on the way to work or watching a Disney movie.

CoSA has been found useful when dealing with high risk offenders, or those with no support system. Those who had a CoSA group had a 70% drop in recidivism than those not in a group. We know that recidivism is for arrest for any crime (like FTR, another non sex offense crime, etc), so the group is effective. It’s not treatment like SOTP, but an accountability & support group.

Considering the majority of registrant arrests is for FTR, I’m guessing that CoSA groups probably help with keeping their registrants apprised of registry laws, providing rides to the registry office if needed, and so on. That would probably account for nearly all of the claimed 70% reduction in registrant recidivism (which is already among the lowest in the first place). If CoSAs are so successful, they ought to run them for drug offenders and burglars – that’s where the highest recidivism rates are. The fact is that prison time was all the rehabilitation most registrants need. Programs or therapists claiming… Read more »

Hey guys. This Innovating plans sounds like a good opportunity.. The way I look at all this is opportunity knocks in many ways. Sure no one likes prison if that is part of your punishment and yes nobody likes sex treatment classes. Suggest to the PO or director of treatment classes that teach you that would like names and addresses of those in the class to share idea’s and you plan to form a group. After all many didn’t murder anyone, and many didn’t have physical contact with a child in a lot of these ordeals and someone be the… Read more »

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