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Circles of Support and AccountabilityRE-VISIONINGOUR ROOTS "Though a tree grows so high, the falling leaves return to the root."- Malay proverb
Charlie, Wray, Bobby, Canada has now served hundreds of different Core Members. Original Vision? Something bad – bad for everyone – was about to happen in Hamilton: bad for the community, really bad for a victim, and absolutely bad for Charlie, and a group of local citizens did not want that to happen.
Could not help X The federal or provincial correctional systems X Local mental health professionals X Non-governmental agencies The police were going to do what they could – and it was expensive and ineffective.
All official responses to a bad situation were inadequate to protect the community. What to do?
One “response” had not been considered: the people themselves could respond.
“Community Justice”can be “Rough Justice” • Shoot him; • Lynch him; • Castrate him; • Cripple and maim him so he could be incapacitated and more easily seen; • Drive him from their midst;
“Justice” can just mean “More Violence” All of these solutions mean there will be another victim: Charlie, Wray, Bobby, hundreds of others
What about thinking differently? Monsters? Fear, loathing, disgust; intuitive: drive them away , push them out vs. Human beings? Like one of us, one of our own; intuitive: invite them in and care for them.
Radical Thoughts Concept based in Greek Myth and Hebraic theology known as a “radical hospitality.” - The story of Nestor welcoming a stranger, and Telemachus (see notes). - The Good Samaritan caring for the stranger, a person completely unknown, the one who was beaten and left for dead by the side of the road.
Birth of Circles When all the mechanisms for public safety in a society fail to protect the public or are found inadequate, then it is the people themselves who must act to protect themselves and their most vulnerable members.
Consider this - Jane Jacobs (1961) The Death and Life of Great American Cities. “The first thing to understand is that the public peace—the sidewalk and street peace—is not kept primarily by the police, necessary as police are. It is kept primarily by an intricate, almost unconscious, network of voluntary controls and standards among the people themselves and enforced by the people themselves. No amount of police can enforce Civilization where the normal causal enforcement of it has broken down.”
“The Shadow Cast by Formal Justice.” Community is made from conflict as much as from cooperation; the capacity to solve conflict is what gives social relations their sinew. Professionalizing justice “steals the conflicts,” robbing the community of its ability to face trouble and restore peace. Communities lose their confidence, their capacity, and, finally, their inclination to preserve their own order. They instead become consumers of police and court “services” with the consequence that they largely cease to be communities. - Nils Christie (1977). Conflicts as Property. British Journal of Criminology, 1.
The Work of CoSA Flows from Its Vision The “work” of Circles of Support and Accountability, is a purposeful engagement in dialogue with local communities and their institutions. This engagement taps a community’s innate capacity to preserve order to make peace, begin healing, and to reclaim the conflict.
Building Community As CoSA practitioners, you will know that this effort is never more profound than witnessing ordinary citizens confront what might be their worst nightmare, and from that to put into action, “ . . .the informal capacities of residents to regulate neighborhood order and the connections between neighborhoods to public institutions, especially the police, [which] are both integral to inhibiting fear of crime and controlling crime itself” (Emphasis added). Police Quarterly Volume 10 Number 1, March 2007 41-62, citing Bursik & Grasmick, 1993; Hunter, 1985; Lewis & Salem, 1986).
Practically Speaking . . . Building a CoSA IS to Build Community Circles of Support and Accountability CSC Chaplaincy NHQ
The Smiths 1894 W. Blair Bruce oil on canvas National Gallery of Canada (no. 174) Purchased 1910
CoSA as a Paradox The “work” of CoSA, its compelling “vision” strangely enough is not to support sex offenders. It is not to prevent further crime. Not as its first priority at least – it is these things, but something comes before that.
The true GENIOUS of CoSA CoSA involves a strategy to empower the people,to build community. It reaches out and invites into community those without community rather than pushing out and away. It is this -- this empowering, this creating, this inviting in and walking with -- that that in turn offers support for offenders, protects against victimization, and yields the spectacular results we have seen in CoSA.
In It’s Work CoSA is a Partnership “ . . .in recognition that the state, even at local government level, can only ever provide part of the solution to the issues that matter most to people … and that, with the right support and motivation, local people and community groups will readily play an active role in partnership with the state” What works in community involvement in area-based initiatives? A systematic review of the literature. P. Burton et al. British Home Office Online Report 53/04. p. 25
The “Tokyo Rules” The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners “public participation should be regarded as an opportunity for members of the community to contribute to the protection of their society” (Rule 17.2).
The “Tokyo Rules” The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners “There should, therefore, be governmental or private agencies capable of lending the released prisoner efficient aftercare directed towards lessening of prejudice against him and towards his social rehabilitation” (Rule 64) (emphasis added).
The “Tokyo Rules” The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners “With the participation and help of the community and social institutions, and with due regard to the interest of the victims, favourable conditions shall be created for the reintegration of the ex-prisoner into society under the best possible conditions” (Principle 10).
Genius = Results • 83% less sexual reoffending (1 vs. 6), • 73% less violent reoffending (4 vs. 15), and • 71% less reoffending of any kind (5 vs. 17) than the matched comparison group. • Actual total number of new charges and convictions incurred by the two groups (as opposed to the number of offenders who recidivated), the COSA group incurred 74% fewer charges and convictions (17 vs. 73) than the comparison group. Wilson, Cortoni & McWhinnie, 2009), Circles of Support & Accountability: A Canadian National Replication of Outcome Findings. SEX ABUSE: A Journal of Research and Treatment 21(4) 412-430.
The Roots and the Genius of CoSA • Building Community • Empowering Citizens • Inviting into Community • Holding Accountability in Community • Partnering with Professionals to Accomplish this Vision