This program is designed to hold high risk sexual offenders accountable for their actions and to provide them with support following their incarceration. A Circle consists of a Core Member (the offender), five to seven professionally trained volunteers who provide the support and accountability, and professional service providers. Volunteers maintain daily contact by phone and weekly in-person meetings.
The first Circle Member in Canada, where this program was started by the Mennonite Central Committee, was successful in never reoffending for the 15 years prior to his death, despite being told by his psychologist that he had a 100% chance of reoffending. Evidenced based research shows that when offenders participate in the Circles, recidivism is reduced by 70%. Core values: “No more victims – No Human is Disposable.”
In 2008, two community activists, Jim Kalish and Keith Regehr, began discussions with CCP to see if we were interested in establishing a Circles of Support and Accountability Program in Lancaster County. After months of deliberation and a poll of CCP’s stakeholders, the Board approved the creation of a Circles of Support and Accountability Program in December 2009 and Lance Couturier, PhD (recently retired as Chief of Psychological Services with the PA Dept. of Correction, where he directed the sex offender treatment program) was asked to join the Board to oversee it.
In March 2010, positive reinforcement for the Circles Program came when Jim secured a $5,000 Grant from the Friends Meeting and Keith Regehr to became Program Manager on a part-time basis. In January 2011, CCP committed $3,700 to the Program and, in October 2011, the John Frederick Steinman and The James Hale Steinman awarded grants of $7,500 each for the program. In December, 2011, the United Service Foundation contributed $20,000 followed by $12,000 from the Lancaster County Community Foundation in January, 2012.
The first Core Member was admitted into a Circle on October 4, 2011. Working closely with Lancaster County and State Probation and Parole Offices, additional Circles will be formed as Circle Volunteers become available.
For a brochure describing Circles of Support and Accountability, click here.