Justice Center receives $100K grant for sex offender re-entry study

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State Justice Center for Research has received grant funding of more than $100,000 from the National Institute for Justice to assess the Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA) model for effectively integrating high-risk offenders back into society.

Led by principal investigators Ian Elliott, research scholar, and Gary Zajac, managing director of the Justice Center for Research, an assessment of COSA will be conducted across five states. The goal of COSA is to enhance community safety by promoting the successful integration of high-risk offenders back into the community through support, advocacy and meaningful accountability provided by local volunteers and criminal justice professionals.

"Research from Canada and Europe suggests that the COSA model can be highly effective in reducing reoffending for sex offenders in the highest risk categories," Elliott said. "A number of these COSA programs have now been developed in communities across the U.S.A., and we hope to demonstrate that these programs are established to an extent that they can contribute to a comprehensive assessment of how effective they are.”

The study, titled “Evaluability Assessments of the Circles of Support and Accountability Model,” will map the COSA model in theory and identify intended operations, before examining the congruence between the theoretical intended program and actual program operations. The research team will produce a comprehensive report providing evaluability assessments for each site, conclusions regarding the feasibility of a large-scale evaluation, and recommendations related to the feasibility and design of such an evaluation.

Penn State’s Justice Center for Research is a cooperative venture of the College of the Liberal Arts, and Penn State Outreach’s Justice and Safety Institute. For more information, contact Elliott, at 814-867-3295 or iae1@psu.edu, or Zajac, at 814-867-3651 or gxz3@psu.edu. The Justice Center for Research is located at 327 Pond Building and in the 329 Innovation Boulevard building at Innovation Park. For more information about the center, visit http://www.justicecenter.psu.edu/.

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Last Updated January 14, 2013