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

[theconversation.com – 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

 

Join the discussion

  1. Facts should matter

    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!

  2. Dustin

    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.

  3. ThoughtAsWeak

    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.

    • Dustin

      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 high success or cure rates among the registry population is like claiming they won a game they never played. I’m not trying to belittle or demean CoSAs. I’m sure they are very helpful – maybe even critical – for some. I’m just saying be more practical in evaluating presumed effectiveness.

  4. Saddles

    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 team captain or leader in that area or county and travel around or talk and ask if they would support someone to work in their factory, industry or what ever job suit’s their abilities.

    It could even be in the computer field or working with graphic programs, or even food service. Sure someone with team leadership, and that could be a novel idea. Ask your PO or instructor and that might be something that makes a positive difference on the whole team. Nothing wrong with making a difference.

    Innovative idea’s are always good. Whether its detailing or washing cars. This team leader might help. Course their is always the employment office, temp, services, if you want to go that route. I worked in the early 90’s thru manpower for a place that made TV dinners untill they moved the location and the plant closed down. I tried after I got involved in my registory and the lady called me in and said but your a sex offender. She screamed her head off at me. Who would want to put that on their application at a temp service.

    Everything starts with a plan. I don’t know how it is out in CA but it just might help improve moral and help others be productive. CoSa programs are still good in many ways.

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