Dismas House is an approved Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) residential reentry program in Nashville that accepts applications from men returning to the community directly from all state prisons and county jails throughout Tennessee. To successfully complete our program, residents must stay a minimum of 90 days but can stay up to a year.
Dismas House provides our residents with a uniquely warm and family-like atmosphere, in addition to a comprehensive selection of services we cluster under the umbrella of our “Four Pillars,” which are 1) basic needs, 2) health and well-being, 3) life skills, and 4) legal support. Our goal is to support these men as they navigate the challenging transition from prison back into the community and help them overcome the many barriers to successful reentry.
Focusing on Holistic Needs
As a Tennessee reentry program provider, it is our vision that Dismas House residents become self-sufficient, contributing members of society, and never return to prison. Our program, which focuses on the holistic needs of each resident and fosters change from the inside-out, does just that. Finally, since children with an incarcerated parent(s) are five times more likely to go to prison, our program has a generational impact by helping to stop the cycle of crime and punishment.
Program Plan & Phases of Advancement
The minimum length of stay to complete the Dismas House Reentry Program is 90 days and the maximum is 12 months. Once a resident has successfully completed the Dismas Reentry Program, he may, depending on bed availability, individual progress, and other criteria, apply for the Dismas Transitional Living Program (TLP), which provides the opportunity for a resident who has successfully completed the main Dismas program to continue to live at Dismas House in our transitional housing. Determining the length of stay at Dismas House is a decision made between the resident and his care team based upon the resident’s individual goals, successful achievement of certain benchmarks, and adherence to his treatment plan, if applicable.
Pillars of Programming: The Dismas Model
- Basic Needs – We provide food, shelter, clothing, and transportation for residents, which gives them the secure and stable foundation needed to adjust and grow.
- Health & Well-Being – Our residents receive physical, dental, and vision exams and benefit from weekly case management and trauma-informed individual and group therapy, as well as addiction support through daily 12-step meetings. Wellness classes like yoga, CrossFit, and daily meditation are provided to improve physical and mental well-being. Skill-based groups, like Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) help residents practice emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, mindfulness, and distress tolerance skills.
- Life Skills – Case managers work with residents on short and long-term goals, transition plans, gaining employment and achieving academic goals such as HiSET and earning/completing a college degree or vocational certificate. Job readiness training is provided through our partnership with Project Return. Weekly finance and technology classes help residents gain financial literacy and become prepared to join the 21st century workforce. Pro-social behaviors are practiced through participation in community events, resident-led community meetings, and our volunteer-hosted “family dinners.”
- Legal Support – Through our partnership with the Legal Aid Society, we help residents with expungements, restoration of voting rights, reducing court fines and fees, and resolving child support and custody issues to name a few of the services. In addition, Chelsea Nicholson, a grant-funded attorney, works with every resident on driver’s license restoration.