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Circles of Support and Accountability
Thank you for being part of this journey with Circles of Support and Accountability over the last month.
It feels as if we have been on a roller coaster ride! In the midst of the highs and lows, there has been an incredible sense that we have been supported and strengthened by the larger community and by friends. You made a difference!
As most of you know, we at Mennonite Central Committee Ontario received word Friday, March 7, that our contract with Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) would be honoured. We have yet to receive official word about funding for the other CoSA projects across Canada. But we are hopeful and we expect they will be hearing shortly.
This is the beginning of a new journey for CoSA as we embark on the process of building a sustainable base of support. The government has been clear that we need to do this, but for now we have some breathing space and we are grateful.
We know that many of you spoke with friends, wrote to Members of Parliament, and prayed. The words "thank you" cannot even begin to express our gratitude and appreciation for your participation with us. We also want to acknowledge our Kitchener-Waterloo MP's who worked diligently with us and on our behalf. They were amazing!
Again, thank you! Thank you for your support, for your participation and for your commitment to safer, healthier communities.
~Eileen Henderson, CoSA coordinator for Mennonite Central Committee Ontario
Update: Funding for MCCO CoSA projects restored
MCC Ontario is grateful to report that we have received word from Correctional Service Canada (CSC) that they have reversed it decision to cut funding to CoSA: http://www.therecord.com/news-story/4404395-sex-offender-program-funding-won-t-be-cut-off/
We are unclear of the funding status of other CoSA projects across the country. We are waiting for more clarity and details from Correctional Service of Canada.
Funding cuts to Circles of Support and Accountability
Mennonite Central Committee has learned that the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has requested that Correctional Service Canada reconsider its decision to cut funding to the Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) programs across the country.
We are encouraged by this step, and are hopeful it will lead to a restoration of funding for these programs that help protect public safety.
We are also thankful for the support from the Minister, Members of Parliament and others who listened to MCC’s concerns and advocated on behalf of CoSA programs.
MCC calls on the Correctional Services of Canada to reverse the funding cuts to Circles of Support and Accountability
MCC calls on the Correctional Services of Canada to reverse the funding cuts to Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) projects across the country. CoSA programs dramatically reduce the rate of sexual and other kinds of re-offence. Cutting support to CoSA is a threat to public safety.
The importance of CoSA: rational and impact
The risk to re-offend and re-victimize is reduced when individuals who have been incarcerated for sexual offending and who are returning to the community are offered both support and the opportunity to be accountable. Small "circles" of volunteers in conjunction with MCC staff become new communities for men whose crimes have marginalized them from society.
The Value of Proactive Approaches to Community Safety
Social Return on Investment Results: Circles of Support and Accountability of MCCO (Circles) creates substantial financial and social value by creating opportunities to both engage in community and develop mutually responsible relationships for people who have or are at risk of offendingsexually (core members). This research demonstrates that for every dollar invested in Circles, more than $6 of value is created.
The National Crime Prevention Centre is scheduled to publish the latest findings from the National Demonstration Project in the Fall of 2014. Thus far, evidence gathered indicates:
Similar results have been measured in Great Britain where the Canadian innovation of CoSA has been replicated; CoSA projects also exist in the Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain, Latvia, and the U.S. (6 states), with interest being generated in Bulgaria, Lithuania, and New Zealand.
We Remember – one example of the important work of CoSA
In November of 1993, convicted pedophile Wray Budreo was released from Kingston Penitentiary. Having served every single day of his prison sentence, Wray was free to live wherever he wanted. Initial attempts to move to a smaller town led to community outrage and fear, forcing him to move. On the day of the Santa Claus parade in Toronto, Wray was met by a group of individuals who agreed to support him and at the same time, hold him accountable for the choices he was making.
The call of the gospel and the belief that inclusion rather than exclusion is key to community safety, led these individuals to begin a journey that would last for the next 14 years. It was a journey marked by both joy and pain.
Staff and volunteers with MCC's Circle of Support and Accountability remember the early beginnings of the program. They remember Wray's life and the journey that they are on together with more than 100 men over the past 15 years.
"We remember with gratitude and thanksgiving," reflects Eileen Henderson, MCCO's Restorative Justice Coordinator.
Wray Budreo died September 4, 2007.
I was in prison and you visited me… I was a stranger and you welcomed me…
Rick Cober Bauman