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

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2013
26 pages
This study identified issues that should be considered in an evaluation design for Lancaster's (Pennsylvania) 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.
Lancaster's COSA ("COSA Lancaster") was part of a five-site study of COSA programs in the United States that assessed their readiness for a rigorous evaluation. This assessment concludes that COSA Lancaster is not operating at sufficient capacity to justify investment in a rigorous evaluation; however, it has a strong model in place with the potential for growth, provided the program achieves a sufficient level of financial and operational stability. It is noteworthy that the Center for Community Peacemaking (CCP), which manages COSA Lancaster, has established a COSA program in a region the CCP describes as both politically and religiously conservative. Plans for development include more effective administration, better documentation of program operation, improvements in recruiting volunteer staff, and additional fundraising. The assessment identified some deviations from the intended COSA model, such as flexibility in the "core member" selection criteria. Staff workload was also identified as problematic, as the program director was required to assume a dual role as circle coordinator while being part-time. Further development of relationships with the criminal justice system is also required. The state of data collection, management, and storage is of concern, and this must be improved in order to provide data sufficient for an evaluation. Still, COSA Lancaster has established its first Circles and has been successful in maintaining them. 2 figures and 16 references

Date Published: July 1, 2013