FAQs

America’s Original Residential Reentry Center

More Commonly Known as “Halfway House”

Dismas-House-2021-building

What is Dismas House of St. Louis?

Dismas House of St. Louis is the federal Residential Reentry Center for the justice-involved in the St. Louis area.

What is the vision of Dismas House of St. Louis?

Successful second chances for a better St. Louis.

What is a Residential Reentry Center?

The federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) contracts with residential reentry centers (RRCs) to provide individual assistance to clients who are nearing release.

  • RRCs provide a safe, structured, supervised environment, as well as employment counseling, job placement, financial management assistance and other programs and services.
  • RRCs are not prisons. Clients are monitored closely and must maintain pre-arranged approved schedules which include working off-campus and visiting families. No client is locked in a cell.
  • To safeguard all clients, RRCs must manage a close watch on items brought into the facility and no alcohol, drugs, tobacco, or weapons are allowed. We conduct irregular and random drug and alcohol testing of each client.

What is the mission of Dismas House of St. Louis?

The mission of Dismas House of St. Louis is to successfully prepare individuals returning from federal incarceration for reentry into the community.

  • Established as America’s original residential reentry center, our committed staff encourages clients to develop skills and to become instilled with the personal traits required to be welcomed as responsible members of the community.
  • After years of incarceration, most clients require consistent and direct guidance as they begin to feel freedom and learn to live once again in a free society. Staff must help each client change their mindsets from a prison-type institutional mindset to an open, free, community mindset.

How do you hold clients accountable when they are away from the Dismas House facility?

Accountability is a primary concern. Dismas House is responsible for each client 24/7 because each is still serving their federal obligation, even when they are working, or seeking employment, or on a pass privilege. We therefore must have several methods of assuring we know the precise location of each client. We use a robust GPS system and also spot check with personal visits and telephone calls. Even if a client is just a few minutes late returning from an authorized trip, we must know the person’s location and the client must accept the responsibility to be accountable and to telephone us.

How successful is Dismas House in achieving its mission?

Dismas House of St. Louis received the very first BOP contract for federal residential reentry services in the region and has implemented it without interruption ever since, indicative of our exceptional success rate serving clients.

What is the recidivism rate we hear so much about?

  • The recidivism rate, a percentage statistic representing the number of clients not able to complete the program successfully during the time Dismas House manages their case, was 28%.
  • The recidivism rate of 28% is much lower in comparison to the national long-term recidivism rate, which indicates 64% of people released from federal prison are arrested again over an eight-year period.
  • As the statistics indicate, some clients fall short in their efforts to return to the community and to live as a free person. Despite monitoring and supervision, such clients may leave the RRC not intending to return, knowing that the penalty may be an immediate return to a federal sentence.

What is the Dismas House track record in fulfilling its contract obligations to the BOP?

  • Dismas House is evaluated in annual Contract Performance Assessment Reports (CPAR) by the BOP. Dismas House has always earned the highest level of performance in annual CPAR reports.
  • During quarterly audits, there are three possible results: Satisfactory, Deficient, or a Finding. Deficiencies normally are corrected by letter and do not rise to the level of formal corrective action by the BOP.
  • Dismas House has earned BOP contracts during competitive bidding every five years since the contract was initially awarded.

How many clients are served by Dismas House of St. Louis?

In the year ending in September 2020, Dismas House served 569 federal offenders seeking reentry into the community following incarceration. Since inception Dismas House has been a refuge for more than 10,000 men.

How are clients accepted into Dismas House?

Clients served by Dismas House are referred by either the Federal Bureau of Prisons or the United States Probation Office or by a Direct Court Commitment.

  • The length of stay in the program is determined by the referring authority.
  • The individual’s adjustment to the Dismas House program is a major factor which can influence a client’s length of stay.

What services does Dismas House of St. Louis provide?

The primary objective of Dismas House is to properly prepare ex-offenders for their return to a free society where they can live as productive, law-abiding citizens. Additional goals and objectives include:

  • Providing a comfortable, positive, safe and structured environment for each client.
  • Providing employment and/or educational, vocational placement assistance.
  • Providing an atmosphere which encourages and permits clients to improve family relationships and social re-adjustment.
  • Integrating services with the community resources to meet the needs of the clients and the community.

How many Dismas House clients get jobs because of your placement efforts?

In the final quarter of 2020 73.56% of Dismas House clients were employed while in the program or by the time of their release.

How many people are employed at Dismas House?

Dismas House maintains a staff of approximately 50 employees including social service workers, case managers, maintenance personnel, kitchen staff and housekeeping personnel. Dismas House is staffed 24/7.

How has the pandemic impacted the work or the success of Dismas House?

Dismas House has an entire team of people who address issues related to the pandemic daily. Significant investments in new equipment have been made to ensure the health and safety of the staff and clients. Processes have been reviewed and adjusted to comply with federal, state, and local health guidance. As the number of COVID-19 cases among Dismas House staff and clients has been relatively low, the success of the organization has continued.

What is the Dismas House Community Relations Board (CRB)?

The mission of the CRB is to tap the perspective of city residents and workers to improve the direction of Dismas House while assisting the men with reentry. In addition to operating a reentry program, Dismas House has a responsibility to assist the community and will do this best with input from the community. Over the last few years, the CRB has included a representative from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and the City Parks Department plus local businesses and other organizations we work with regularly. The CRB meets quarterly.

How does Dismas House interact with the community?

Separately from the Community Relations Board, Social Service Coordinators reach out to organizations, employers and civic programs to foster opportunities. In addition, Case Managers reach out to the community to assist their men in finding jobs or job training.

When did Dismas House open?

Dismas House was founded in 1959 as the first halfway house in the U.S. by a Catholic Jesuit Priest, Father Charles “Dismas” Clark, and a Jewish criminal lawyer, Morris Shenker.

The 1961 film “The Hoodlum Priest” is based on the life of Fr. Clark.

In 1965 Frank Sinatra and other members of the famed “Rat Pack” held a benefit fundraiser for Dismas House with a performance in St. Louis.

What is the origin of the Dismas House name?

The name was derived from the “Good Thief” or “Penitent Thief” St. Dismas, who died on the cross at the time of the Crucifixion of Christ.

What is the structure of Dismas House of St. Louis?

Dismas House is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization operating under the direction of an independent board of directors. Income is derived from contracts with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

Who are the current officers and members of the board?

  • President Ron Howard
  • Vice President David Bell
  • Secretary Robin Jones
  • Member Mike Banahan
  • Member Tim Whitney
  • Member Kyle Ingram
  • Member Michael Pratt
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