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Re-entry Initiatives

Offenders returning to the community after a prison term face many challenges to successful reintegration including the issues that first sent them to prison. Restorative practices are increasingly being used to help inmates make this transition back to their families and communities.

A second chance at Curt's Cafe
from the article by Susan Du in The Daily Northwestern: Curt’s Cafe, 2922 Central St., is an unlikely crossroads for the two: Trieschmann hires at-risk young adults, particularly those with criminal records, providing them with hard-to-find job training and work experience. The non-profit restaurant is one of the only adult ex-offender re-entry programs in a city that focuses most of its re-entry resources on at-risk youths. Trieschmann said the road to opening the experimental business was far from smooth, with some neighbors concerned about the business drawing former criminals to Central Street. Still, it’s an experiment that restorative justice advocates and even Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said is worth a shot.
An Outcome Evaluation of Minnesota Circles of Support and Accountability (MnCoSA)
from the study by the Minnesota Department of Corrections: ....The use of the COSA model with high-risk sex offenders began in a small Mennonite community in Canada in the early 1990s. Grounded in the tenets of the restorative justice philosophy, the COSA model attempts to help sex offenders successfully reenter the community and, thus, increase public safety, by providing them with social support as they try to meet their employment, housing, treatment, and other social needs. Each COSA consists of anywhere between four and six community volunteers, one of whom is a primary volunteer, who meet with the offender on a regular basis. The results from several evaluations of the Canadian COSA model suggest it significantly reduces sex offender recidivism....
Anderson, Samantha and Karp, David R. Vermont’s Restorative Reentry Program: A Pilot in Burlington’s Old North End
The Vermont Department of Corrections (VDOC) has been one of the pioneers of restorative justice in the United States. VDOC continues this role with the application of restorative principles to their reentry program. A basic component of this effort is to modify Vermont’s reparative board model to organize community volunteers more effectively for participation in restorative justice panels. A restorative justice panel consists of community volunteers who meet with offenders reentering society. Community members provide advice and support for offenders on reentry. Samantha Anderson and David Karp review a pilot program for a restorative justice panel in the Old North End of Burlington, Vermont, a district with high crime rates and a significant number of released offenders.
Brady, Kat and Sakai, Ted and Walker, Lorenn. Restorative Circles: A Solution-Focused Reentry Planning Process for Inmates
This article describes a pilot programme in Hawaii using restorative circles in creating transition plans for inmates.
Circles of Support and Accountability, sex offender program, has federal funding cut
from the article on Huffington Post Canada: A government-funded program that reports have shown drastically reduces sex offenders' rates of reoffending will have a huge portion of its funding cut at the end of this month.
Circles of Support and Accountability, sex offender program, has federal funding cut
from the article on Huffington Post Canada: A government-funded program that reports have shown drastically reduces sex offenders' rates of reoffending will have a huge portion of its funding cut at the end of this month.
Correctional Service of Canada. Circles of Support and Accountability: A Guide To Training Potential Volunteers. Training manual 2002
Circles of Support & Accountability represent an innovative response to a controversial social issue in our society. The purpose of this manual is to assist in the training of volunteers who are willing to become a part of a Circle of Support and Accountability for warrant expiry sex offenders. This document is also an initial attempt at a distillation of the work and wisdom of many individuals across Canada who have worked with this still relatively new initiative. Its creation was occasioned by a recognition of the increasing need to develop greater consistency in the process and standards of orienting and training potential volunteers and professionals.
Correctional Service of Canada. Community reintegration project
The Community Reintegration Project is an initiative to reduce the risk of re-offense by individuals convicted of sexual offenses, assist with their transition into the community, and address the fears of victims. The Mennonite Central Committee (Ontario), under an agreement with Correctional Services Canada, is the sponsor for this pilot project. The principal mode of providing reintegration assistance is through support groups or Circles of Support for sex offenders re-entering the community. The Circles of Support consist of volunteers primarily from the faith community. The ex-offender must commit to the Circle and its advice and help, pursue a predetermined course of treatment, and act responsibly in the community. Mediating between police, media, and the community-at-large, the Circle provides intensive support for the ex-offender. This document provides background to the project, a description of the problem, and principles and practices for developing and providing a Circle of Support.
Deutschmann, Linda and Petrunik, Michael. "The Exclusion–Inclusion Spectrum in State and Community Response to Sex Offenders in Anglo-American and European Jurisdictions"
Continental European and Anglo-American jurisdictions differ with regard to criminal justice and community responses to sex offenders on an exclusion–inclusion spectrum ranging from community protection measures on one end to therapeutic programs in the middle and restorative justice measures on the other end. In the United States, populist pressure has resulted in a community protection approach exemplified by sex offender registration, community notification, and civil commitment of violent sexual predators. Although the United Kingdom and Canada have followed, albeit more cautiously, the American trend to adopt exclusionist community protection measures, these countries have significant community-based restorative justice initiatives, such as Circles of Support and Accountability. Although sex offender crises have recently occurred in continental Europe, a long-standing tradition of the medicalization of deviance, along with the existence of social structural buffers against the influence of victim-driven populist penal movements, has thus far limited the spread of formal community protection responses.
Evans, Donald G. Volunteer Program Aids Released Offender Supervision
In Canada, there have been two recent developments regarding supervision of conditionally released offenders. The first relates to releasing offenders at the expiration of their sentences and, in the case of sex offenders, provision of community notification and, where appropriate, forming circles of accountability and support to aid in managing those offenders' return to the community. The second class of released offenders who need attention is the growing number of those who fail to qualify for parole (conditional release) and are not considered serious enough risks to warrant detention in prison until sentence expiration. Building on the success of the circles of support and accountability, a parole service official and a clinical psychologist designed a program that involves volunteers as mentors for high-risk offenders who are released statutorily rather than conditionally. The mentors act as a support network and give advice and assistance to offenders, usually about specific needs such as finding employment, securing housing, or working with financial institutions. Mentors come from faith-based and aboriginal communities, as well as from colleges and universities, and also may be interested citizens who are committed to helping offenders reestablish themselves in the community.
Georgia Department of Corrections. Reentry Skills Building Handbook.
The skills needed to prevail against the challenges reentry may pose are explained. Chapters following an introduction about getting organized are: identification; housing; employment; careers; work ethics; transportation; money management; education; incarcerated veterans program; health and life skills; family and friend relationships; child support; restorative justice and victim awareness; living under supervision; and community resources contact information. (abstract from the National Institute of Corrections,
Gordon, Katya Goodenough. From Corrections to Connections: A Report on the AMICUS Girls Restorative Program.
Corrections professionals are looking for new models that can effectively address the needs of women and girls in the corrections system and take on the unique challenges they pose. For the past four years, the Minnesota Department of Corrections has partnered with AMICUS (a non-profit agency) and a juvenile residential placement facility to provide a gender-responsive program for serious and chronic female juvenile offenders. “The Girls Restorative Program” is an innovative effort that blends the philosophies of restorative justice with the best practices of gender-responsive programming for girls. Restorative services are provided to girls while they are in residential placement, during their transition and furlough, and after release. (excerpt)
Goulet, Jean-Jacques. Circles of Support and Accountability For Released Sex Offenders.
The Circles of support & accountability (CoSA) is a program that was developed 12 years ago in response to the fear communities experienced at the prospect of a released sex offender being released into their communities. The following are some of the major points that underline its functioning.(excerpt)
Grier, A. F. "Restorative Parole"
This paper describes a project in Canada called "Restorative Parole." It is designed to address the restoring of faith and trust of victims of crime toward offenders who have committed crimes serious enough to warrant their placement in a secure custodial setting, to serve a sentence effectively removed from mainstream society. The project is meant to develop a process for safely returning offenders to society, focusing on victim impact, community involvement, and offender accountability. The Aboriginal community is in agreement with the project, and endorses the healing and growth approach to reintegrating offenders into their home, or a new community setting.
Hannem, Stacey and Petrunik, Michael G. Canada's Circles of Support and Accountability: A Community Justice Initiative for High-risk Sex Offenders
In 1986, legislation that was designed to keep high-risk offenders away from the public actually created a loophole that allowed certain high risk offenders to be released at the conclusion of their sentence without any community supervision requirement. Canadian authorities realized that releasing high risk offenders, especially those convicted of sex crimes against children, into a fearful and hostile community would not serve the public interest. As such, the COSA initiative came about with the understanding that community protection can be enhanced by a restorative approach that combines offender reintegration with a concern for public safety. The development of this approach in Canada came about as a result of public outcry following a high-profile case in which a released sex offender killed a child. COSA works by uniting four to seven trained team members in a covenant with a high-risk sex offender in order to provide the offender with assistance obtaining work, housing and recreation, social assistance, and community resources. The criteria for successful COSA’s include open communication between COSA team members and the criminal justice system. The COSA model requires a careful balance between reintegration and risk management concerns, but the effort provides enhanced community safety and valuable community reintegration services that help keep offenders from recidivating. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service,
Hannem, Stacey and Petrunik, Michael G. Circles of Support and Accountability: A Community Justice Initiative for the Reintegration of High Risk Sex Offenders.
This article is an examination of the Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA) initiative in Canada as a community response to the release of high-risk, warrant-expired sex offenders. In this paper, we examine the socio-political context in which the COSA initiative emerged and provide a theoretical analysis of the underlying philosophy of the programme. Conceptual links are drawn between the practice of COSA and Braithwaite and Mugford's 14 conditions of successful reintegration ceremonies and, drawing on our experiences as volunteers with a COSA initiative in a Canadian city, we suggest three best practice conditions for the creation of successful circles. We also show how COSA balances its twin, sometimes competing objectives : 'No one is disposable' and 'No more victims.' (author's abstract)
Herron, Bobbie J. . Citizens Circles: A Road Map to Successful Community Involvement Promoting Responsible Citizenship
Citizen Circles create partnerships that promote positive social interaction and accountability for offenders upon release. Circle members address risks that contribute to criminal activity by taking ownership over the solution. It is an opportunity for citizens to communicate expectations for successful reentry and help offenders recognize the harm their behavior has caused others. Offenders are able to make amends and demonstrate their value and potential to the community. (excerpt) This manual provides an overview of the Citizen Circles.
Huikahi Restorative Circles: A public health approach for reentry planning
from the article by Lorenn Walker and Rebecca Greening in Federal Probation: ....The Huikahi Restorative Circle is a group process for reentry planning that involves the incarcerated individual, his or her family and friends, and at least one prison representative. The process was developed in 2005 in collaboration with two community-based organizations—the Hawai’i Friends of Civic &Law Related Education and the Community Alliance on Prisons—and the Waiawa Correctional Facility located on the island of O’ahu.
Huikahi Restorative Circles: Group process for self-directed reentry planning and family healing
from Lorenn Walker's article in European Journal of Probation: ....The Huikahi Circle is a facilitated reentry planning group process for individual incarcerated people, their invited supporters, and at least one prison representative. The incarcerated person determines what they want and the group helps her determine how best to achieve her goals. It can result in better outcomes for people leaving prison or drug treatment programs than case planning and case management where professionals make decisions for others.
Hurley, Martha Henderson. Restorative practices in institutional settings and at release: victim wrap around programs.
While earlier efforts to increase victim involvement emphasized changes within early stages of the criminal justice system, recent efforts have emphasized the need for greater involvement of victims within institutional settings and during the reentry process. The most recent avenue of exploration for policy changes within institutional environments that include victims’ perspectives has been the desire to implement restorative justice practices within institutional settings for adult offenders (see information available from The Pennsylvania Prison Society at http://www. In addition to the push for implementation of restorative practices behind prison walls, several state correctional systems have incorporated victim wrap around services within the parole process. The next section discusses the literature and reviews some of the programs that have been developed as part of restorative justice practices behind prison walls and victim wrap around services incorporated into the reentry process for inmates. (excerpt)

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