Photo provided by Dismas House
St. Louis – August 22, 2022 – What facilitates a successful return to society for justice-involved men? Dismas House of St. Louis, the nation’s first halfway house, has been developing, refining and deploying these key components for more than 60 years. Successful reentry focuses first on each client’s specific needs. The Dismas House of St. Louis approach emphasizes employment, budgeting and housing.


Helping each client obtain meaningful long-term employment is important to a successful second chance. Through a living wage, clients can garner a sense of pride, repay their debts to society and become responsible independent citizens.

Dismas House employs two social services coordinators who help clients find self-sustaining and gainful employment. The process focuses on job-seeking skills, outreach to client-friendly employers, proper completion of employment applications, writing a resume, developing interview skills, understanding pre-employment procedures and job retention.

“We are helping our clients turn their lives around. Our clients are very eager to work. They want to go to work so they can help support their family and contribute to the community,” said Lauren O’Neil, Dismas House social services coordinator.

Dismas House leverages community-based partnerships to help clients develop soft skills, their personal brand, professional appearance coaching and self-confidence to help them realize their potential as valuable members of their community and workplace. Specifics include industrial training, carpentry and other trade opportunities, as well as job opportunities that require a commercial driver’s license.

Consistently, more than 70% of Dismas House clients establish employment while part of the residential reentry program.

Learning to budget

Dismas House case managers and social service coordinators put a significant focus on helping clients become financially responsible. Dismas House clients are encouraged to meet their financial obligations and learn how to independently manage their money. Part of this work helps the client recognize and identify their personal budget, set priorities and be accountable for themselves and their loved ones.

“We want to help the clients understand and accept their financial reality. In doing so, we help our clients build a plan that focuses on their short- and long-term financial needs. Our experience is that when clients acknowledge and follow a plan, they can see success beyond the residential reentry program,” said programs manager Arlivia Ross.


Dismas House of St. Louis plays a critical role in the pre-release, home confinement and post incarceration home plan while clients are transitioning back into the community. In an effort to reduce recidivism, community partners and other organizations typically play a large role in supporting Dismas House in finding proper housing as clients end their time at the residential reentry center.

“The goal for the Dismas House team is to identify safe and stable environments for our clients to live (in) after leaving the reentry center,” Tarlise Strickland, social services coordinator said. “Dismas House aims to assist the client in choosing a sustainable and productive home location that helps foster an environment of successful second chances.”

“When clients and Dismas House staff work together, these components have the potential to reduce crime and recidivism. We are here to help men prepare for their new lives and assist them in becoming a contributing member of the community,” said Ross.

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