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46 How. J. Crim. Just. 1 (2007)

handle is hein.journals/hjcj46 and id is 1 raw text is: 



The Howard Journal Vol 46 No 1. February 2007
ISSN 0265-5527, pp. 1-15




Circles of Support and Accountability:

     Engaging Community Volunteers

               in   the Management of

         High-Risk Sexual Offenders


         ROBIN J. WILSON, ANDREW McWHINNIE,
         JANICE E. PICHECA, MICHELLE PRINZO
                     and  FRANCA CORTONI
 Robin J. Wilson is Professor and Program Co-ordinato Humber Institute of
 Technology and Applied Learning, Toronto, Canada; Andrew McWhinnie  is
 Director Andrew McWhinnie  Consulting Services, Victoria, British Columbia;
     Janice E. Picheca is Psychologist, Correctional Service of Canada;
     Michelle Prinzo is Psychological Associate, Centre for Addiction and
       Mental Health, Toronto, Canada; Franca Cortoni is Director of
            Programs Research, Correctional Service of Canada


Abstract: The release to the community of a sexual offender is frequently accompanied by
intense coverage in the news media. Too often, the type of coverage these releases receive
serves only to force many offenders into hiding or out of one community and into another.
Forced to move to another community, the scapegoating process starts all over again. It is
well known that secrecy and isolation are critical elements in sexual offending behaviour.
Thus, forcing offenders into hiding does nothing to increase community safety or offender
accountability and, arguably, increases the risk that new victims will be created. The most
problematic releases are those in which sexual offenders arrive in a community with few or
no links, and with little access to appropriate treatment and supervisory services. This
article outlines a restorative approach to the risk management of high-risk sexual
offenders in Canada using professionally-facilitated volunteerism. The Circles of
Support and Accountability model grew out of an ad hoc, faith-based response to a
situation much like that described above in South-Central Ontario, Canada. The
resultant pilot project has since reached its twelfth anniversary and the model has
proliferated both nationally and internationally.


In the summer   of 1988, a notorious sexual offender, Joseph Fredericks,
succeeded  in achieving a conditional release allowing him to serve the
remainder   of his sentence  in the community   under   supervision. He
subsequently  kidnapped,  raped, and  killed eleven-year-old Christopher
Stephenson.  Fredericks, himself, was later murdered   in jail. Although
other tragedies had occurred around about the same time, the Stephenson

                                   1
0  2007 The Authors
journal compilation 0 2007 The Howard League
Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ UK

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