Jacob Diehl ’18 , a managing human capital and leadership, ethics and organizational sustainability double major, has always strived to exemplify Jesuit ideals, from his work in iSJU, which introduces incoming freshman to Jesuit Education, to his community service trips like APEX and PSIP. He wanted his Summer Scholars project to reflect his values, which is why he is spending his summer examining the issues that men face in reentering the workforce after incarceration.
“The main focus of my research will be the stigmatization that these men face and the factors that lead to employment discrimination,” says Diehl.
Just one of the ideas that Diehl has for his project is creating a form that will display what opportunities are available. He also wants to study the discrepancies between the available spaces in Philadelphia re-entry assistance programs and the number of men who apply to those them.
“If society views these men as criminals, rather than people, even after they serve their sentences, then their views of themselves and what they can achieve are compromised,” says Diehl.
His research includes about 10 interviews with men reentering the workplace, to whom Diehl has reached out through professors at SJU. He will ask them to relate their stories through a personal memoir-type dialogue.
Diehl became interested in this topic after attending a workforce diversity class taught by his faculty mentor and advisor, Eric Patton’s, Ph.D., chair and associate professor of management. Patton has studied those with psychological issues in the workplace and assists Diehl in the interview process.
“In this era of mass incarceration, a two-year prison sentence for drugs can become almost a life sentence of unemployment or underemployment,” says Patton. “A great deal of research shows that gainful employment is key for ex-offenders to remain free and not re-offend, which is also an incentive for society as a whole to care about this issue.”
Diehl wants to understand how this process affects ex-offenders as individuals, rather than as a collective unit.
Says Patton, “This project involves many different perspectives and weighs the rights of different groups, for example, the right of individuals to work vs. the rights of companies to decide who they hire. Jake’s project tackles a big issue, and he is ideally suited for it.”
Diehl hopes to contact Women’s Law Project, a website that has a re-entry forum for women. From there, he wishes to either create a similar forum for men or use his research to spread awareness.
“Someone needs to listen to these men who are re-entering, in order to value their journey and the issues that they face, as they rejoin society,” he says.
Project Title: Examining the issues that men face trying to reenter the workforce after being incarcerated
Mentor: Eric Patton, Ph.D., chair and associate professor of management
Hometown: Dedham, MA