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Can circles of support and accountability (CoSA) significantly reduce sexual recidivism? Results from a randomized controlled trial in Minnesota

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Abstract

Objectives

This study evaluates the effectiveness of Minnesota Circles of Support and Accountability (MnCOSA), a sex offender reentry program implemented by the Minnesota Department of Corrections in 2008.

Methods

Using a randomized controlled trial, this study compares recidivism and cost–benefit outcomes among sex offenders in the MnCOSA (N = 50) and control groups (N = 50).

Results

The results suggest MnCOSA significantly reduced sexual recidivism, lowering the risk of rearrest for a new sex offense by 88%. In addition, MnCOSA significantly decreased all four measures of general recidivism, with reductions ranging in size from 49 to 57%. As a result of the reduction in recidivism, findings from the cost–benefit analysis reveal the program has generated an estimated $2 million in costs avoided to the state, resulting in a benefit of $40,923 per participant. For every dollar spent on MnCOSA, the program has yielded an estimated benefit of $3.73.

Conclusions

Although difficult to implement, the CoSA model is a cost-effective intervention for sex offenders that could also be applied to other correctional populations with a high risk of violent recidivism.

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Correspondence to Grant Duwe.

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Duwe, G. Can circles of support and accountability (CoSA) significantly reduce sexual recidivism? Results from a randomized controlled trial in Minnesota. J Exp Criminol 14, 463–484 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11292-018-9325-7

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