Services for Ex-offenders and Their Families


Funding Goal: To support the successful reintegration of ex-offenders by restoring their lives and family relationships and communities, thereby enhancing community stability and public safety.

PLEASE NOTE:  Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis does NOT provide direct assistance to individuals.  Funding is provided to area organizations who, in turn, work directly with individuals.

Statement of Need
A recent report from the Pew Center on the States found that, nationally, one in 100 Americans is incarcerated1. In Missouri, that translates into nearly 31,000 adult inmates at one of 22 prisons, and more than 50,000 on probation2 and 16,000 on parole3.

St. Louis is known as a “gateway” for offenders to reenter the community after prison. It is estimated that 18,000 individuals are released annually from prison throughout Missouri4, of which a significant percentage return to St. Louis. Unfortunately, four out of every ten of those offenders who are released will return to incarceration within three years5. (NOTE:  Statistics which site recidivism rates of 68% or two-thirds are based on a Bureau of Justice Statistics study released in 2002 but compiled from data collected in 1994.  More recent research reveals a much lower recidivism rate6.) Successful reentry is an issue of public safety for communities. 

Researchers recently identified the following eight central areas for addressing the needs of reentering prisoners7:

  • history of anti-social behavior,
  • anti-social personality,
  • anti-social attitudes,
  • anti-social associates,
  • family/marital factors,
  • lack of education/employment,
  • substance abuse/dependence, and
  • lack of pro-social leisure activities.


These risk factors can provide a starting point for developing services that could potentially have the greatest impact on those served, their families and the community. For additional information about these risk factors and best practices in service delivery to this population, click here.

Social and environmental factors (poverty, racism, education), service factors (accessibility to and availability of quality, affordable programs) and physical factors (place of residence, housing and transportation) contribute to choices individuals make that result in initial or re-incarceration, and impact their ability to receive needed services in order to successfully become reintegrated into the community. Men and women enter U.S. prisons with limited marketable work experience, health-related issues, low education or vocational skills. When they are released from prison, these challenges affect neighborhoods, families and the community. Many prisoners with health conditions and issues do not receive treatment while incarcerated and are less likely to receive treatment upon release, thereby lessening the likelihood of successful reentry. This also holds true for education, job training and skills development, and life skills.

Children of incarcerated parents also face significant challenges and uncertainty. Having an incarcerated parent not only brings about stigma and shame, but can also result in emotional and behavioral changes such as depression, problems in schools, delinquency, drug use, aggression, and sometimes violence. 

Researchers and those who work in the field everyday agree that it takes a host of services and individuals to intervene in the life of someone who faces the difficult challenge of rejoining their family and reentering their community. In order for such services to be successful, they should be designed to be comprehensive, individualized to the person’s needs and abilities and responsive to how the person is adjusting.

Faith-based organizations (e.g., churches, parishes, congregations, health and human service agencies) have and continue to play a critical role in supporting ex-offenders and their families. In addition, faith-based organizations are viewed as pivotal in deterring antisocial behaviors through the promotion of spiritual values that encourage positive lifestyles and choices.

While modeling the healing love of Christ, Lutheran Foundation strives to invest in services that show measurable impact in the lives of hurting people. We look to accomplish this by supporting services that are:

  • Comprehensive and collaborative in addressing the complicated and complex needs of the targeted population;
  • Responsive to cultural and gender differences;
  • Family-centered or focused;
  • Evidenced-based/informed and/or utilize best or promising practices.


To learn more about our strategic funding plan, click here.



(1) Pew Center on the States. 2008. “One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008”. Pew Charitable Trust, Washington, D.C.

(2) Missouri Department of Corrections. 2012. “2012 Probation and Parole Annual Report”. Missouri Department of Corrections, Jefferson City, MO.

(3) Bureau Justice of Statistics. 2010. “Prisoners in 2010”. U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.

(4) Bureau Justice of Statistics. 2010. “Prisoners in 2010”. U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.

(5) Pew Center on the States, 2011. “State of Recidivism: The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons”. Pew Charitable Trust Washington, D.C.

(6) Bureau of Justice Statistics. 2002. “Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994.” U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.

(7) Andrews, D.A., & Bonta, J. 2010. The Psychology of Criminal Conduct (5th ed.). Anderson Publishing Company, Cincinnati, OH.