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Evaluability Assessments of the Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA) Model, Site Report: COSA Fresno

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2013
30 pages
This study identified issues that should be considered in an evaluation design for Fresno's (California) Circles of Support and Accountability, a restorative justice-based community reentry program for high-risk sex offenders with little or no pro-social community support.
The Fresno COSA ("COSA Fresno") was part of a five-site assessment of COSA programs in the United States, in order to determine whether the programs had reached a stage of development and operation suitable for a rigorous evaluation. Overall, this assessment concluded that although operations at COSA Fresno are impressive given the limited resources available, significant investment in the site would be required in order to resolve evaluation methodology issues and obstacles that currently make COSA Fresno a poor candidate for rigorous evaluation. If such an investment were made, this assessment recommends that COSA Fresno be included in any evaluation of the effectiveness of COSA in the United States. At the time of this assessment, COSA Fresno had 25 Circles in operation. The program had deviated from the intended model in a number of ways. The intended model was derived from the COSA model developed in Ontario, Canada. First, some "core members" had not completed their full sentence, as they had been released into the community under a combination of COSA and formal parole supervision. Second, volunteer applicants for a staff position had not been subjected to an official criminal records check or a check of personal references. In addition, there were two key obstacles to an evaluation of COSA Fresno. There was concern for the financial viability of the site in the long term, and the limited number of COSA Fresno participants limited the potential for a sample size needed for a rigorous evaluation of the program's impact. 2 figures and 18 references

Date Published: July 1, 2013