Dismas House of St. Louis
Successful Second Chances for A Better St. Louis
Over the years, we have successfully prepared thousands of people to be productive citizens in the St. Louis area.
Our Mission, Vision & Objectives
Our vision is to provide our clients with successful second chances for a better St. Louis.
Our primary objective is to properly prepare justice-involved men for their return to a free society where they can live as productive citizens.
Additional objectives include:
- Providing a positive, safe, and structured environment for the client.
- Providing employment and/or educational, vocational placement.
- Providing an atmosphere which encourages clients to improve family relationships and social readjustment.
- Integrating services with the community resources to meet the needs of the client and community.
- Enhancing the dignity and self-confidence of each individual client.
How We Help Our Clients Succeed
Supervision & Monitoring 24 Hours a Day
Our Success Rate is Above the National Average
The recidivism rate, which is a statistic representing the number of clients unable to complete the program successfully during the time Dismas House manages their case, is twice as successful as the national average.
For the year ending September 2020, 7 of every 10 Dismas House clients successfully returned to society.
At Dismas House of St. Louis, we remain diligent in our fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
We have been actively coordinating with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, medical authorities, and other agencies to help ensure there is a concerted effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Our plan provides guidance that supplements any current, approved Dismas House continuity plan to bridge the gap between traditional challenges and the specific elements of this pandemic.
The Heritage of Dismas House of St. Louis
Dismas House was founded in 1959 by a Jesuit Priest, Father Charles “Dismas” Clark, and a Jewish criminal lawyer, Morris Shenker. Father Clark grew up in an environment of helping those less fortunate than he, and had the idea of starting a halfway house for ex-convicts, but lacked the means to finance it.
Later that year, Clark received permission from the Missouri Jesuit Province to open a halfway house. Shenker offered financial assistance and bought the former Jefferson school building at 905 Cole Street for $42,000 from the St. Louis Board of Education. Clark and Shenker renovated the school into a home for sixty men. They named it “Dismas House” after St. Dismas, the good thief who died next to Jesus. In spite of its name, and Father Clark’s priesthood, the house was non-sectarian.
Father Clark and Dismas House received a lot of publicity, not all of it favorable. He received his greatest notoriety after the release of the movie, “The Hoodlum Priest.” United Artists produced the movie and Don Murray played the part of Clark. Location shots were filmed in St. Louis and the premiere of the film opened at the Loew’s State Theater on February 28, 1961.
In 1965, a benefit fundraiser titled “Live in St. Louis,” hosted by Johnny Carson and starring Frank Sinatra and the infamous Rat Pack, raised money and awareness for Dismas House of St. Louis.
In 1972, Dismas House moved to 5025 Cote Brilliante. Dismas House continues the philosophy of Father Clark: Rehabilitation takes place in society, not behind bars.
Click here to learn more about our long history as part of the St. Louis community.