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.