We provide housing for those in our community recently released for incarceration with local college students to create a family atmosphere for our residents. We offer a variety of programs to assist our residents in their transition back into society.
The South Bend Dismas House opened in 1986 through the efforts of a task group from the United Religious Community of St. Joseph County. Through the program “In Mate-Out Mate” conducted at the Indiana State Prison, the task group discovered a need for post-release housing and services for those returning to society. A female student from the University of Notre Dame linked the group to Dismas, Inc. in Nashville, TN that provided a residential reentry program. In 1974 in Nashville, TN, Father Jack Hickey, a Chaplin at Vanderbilt University with a group of students, started the Dismas House program. In a family setting, former offenders often share the house with college students. Together, they live, work and play as they create “true” community. College students make a positive and lasting impact on those returning from prison. When student residents are present more former offenders successfully complete the Dismas program. Fewer residents relapse on drugs and alcohol. More amazing many former offenders are interested in continuing their education.
After being released from incarceration the first 90 days are crucial in the reentry process. If a returning offender is successful in those first 90 days then they are less likely to return to crime Therefore, we require former offenders to commit to participating in our program for a minimum of 90 days. Students commit to participating for one or two semesters or for the summer.
Annually Dismas serves between 30-40 former offenders. Since opening, the Indiana Dismas House has been home to over 1,600 former offenders and over 100 college students. A former offender has up to 2 years to complete his/her clinic specific plan as a resident and the average stay is 6 months. The century-old households up to 15 residents at once. Their residents receive support from a caring staff and hundreds of community volunteers, who serve as board members, cooks, tutors, mentors, etc. Our program is funded through donations, grants, fund raising events and residents’ fees.
Dismas House recognizes that the cycle of crime can be reduced when men and women, who have been incarcerated, have assistance readjusting to society. To that end, Dismas House provides housing, meals, case management, tutoring, employment services, life skills workshops, counseling, mentoring and programs to help former offenders make successful transitions back into the community.
Since opening in August of 1986, Dismas of Indiana has provided a new beginning to over 500 former prisoners. Dismas has also been home to 94 local Notre Dame, St. Mary’s and Holy Cross students. Annually Dismas serves between 30-40 former offenders. Since opening, the Indiana Dismas House has been home to over 1,600 former offenders and over 100 college students.