Dismas House Facility Collage.jpg
St. Louis – September 26, 2022 – Chances are that when people hear the term “halfway house,” they think it is a place similar to a prison. It is not. That term fails to accurately portray the modern day mission of residential reentry centers, where justice-involved individuals live as they complete their sentences and prepare to reenter society as members of the local community.

Dismas House of St. Louis was the very first residential reentry center in the United States. Back in 1959, the idea of providing a temporary place for those leaving prison to live was a revolutionary concept that began here in St. Louis. Dismas House continues to build on that legacy by continuously making critical investments in the services they provide and in the facility itself.

Life at a residential reentry center

The essential purpose of a residential reentry center is to provide a safe and comfortable environment for clients that is less restrictive than a prison. At Dismas House, clients are monitored when they enter and exit the building through a secure entrance. They sleep initially in dorms, then earn their way into more private rooms. Clients can access a technology center to conduct job searches, do laundry, make free phone calls and enjoy recreation activities. Dismas House has other services that help set people up on a pathway to a better future.

Clients have the freedom to leave the facility to look for work or take advantage of services through Dismas House community partners. Those services include drug aftercare, anger management, mental health services, social skills development, parenting skills, legal assistance and job certifications or licenses. Monitored clients can request weekend passes, attend religious services or take part in recreational activities outside the facility. When clients ultimately leave Dismas House, the next step generally is home confinement, before a full return to the community.



Continuing investments in successful second chances

Dismas House of St. Louis makes significant and ongoing investments in its facility on Cote Brilliante Avenue, where it has been located since 1972, to make sure the client experience is safe and structured.

Over the past three years, the property has been upgraded with a new dormitory, remodeled bathrooms and kitchen, renovated common area, an ADA-compliant room with laundry and showers in the room. Enhanced sanitation follows COVID 19-specific protocols, and security has been enhanced with new and better features. Dismas House of St. Louis is one of the few residential reentry centers in the United States with a full kitchen and dedicated staff who prepares three meals per day, following a menu approved by a dietitian each quarter.

Clients leaving incarceration may experience significant stress and often feel stigmatized when what they really need is a sense of pride and accomplishment. Developing that sense of pride takes time and a clean, safe and secure environment. That is why Dismas House will continue to make critical investments to provide a secure and structured environment for clients, which complies with all health and safety codes.

To learn more about this article, visit STLToday.