Merit Partners, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, has operated Merit Partners within the Northern California Youth Facility in Stockton, California since 2004.
Merit operates its electronic reclamation business by employing and training young adult offenders in all aspects of running a business. From receiving older electronics from our corporate clients, to systemically filing and cataloging each item, to restoring the electronics, to eventually selling and shipping the electronics to customers, each step is performed by our highly trained employees. Our jobs and job-training program helps prepare young adults with the inspiration and skills to succeed upon release from incarceration. Merit hires individuals who show desire to learn and willingness to contribute and be held accountable for their work.
The incarcerated youth who work at Merit Partners must go through an application process similar to any other job employment process. Because many of the employees have never had a job before, most employees are hired based on maturity, good behavior and recommendations from staff within the prison. Merit Partners employees work about 30 hours a week and are paid a fair market wage as set by the state.
Merit’s employees are repeatedly commended by client auditors for their exceptional training and personal accountability in all aspects of Merit’s operations. Nearly all (over 90%) remain without a further conviction after release.
Employees develop skills including forklift operation and material handling, computer testing, refurbishing and upgrading, data management and customer reporting, employee training, cross training and leave custody with nearly $5,000 in savings as well as skills they can take to a future job.
Employees of Merit Partners gain the confidence needed to live a positive life after release. With the job skills acquired, Merit employees learn that they can be a positive part of the world and contribute in a positive way. As a result of this confidence, Merit employees recidivism rate decreases dramatically from those who do not participate in Merit Partners.
With job responsibilities comes the responsibility of having a job. Merit employees are expected to show up to work on time, do their job accurately and efficiently, work as a team with other employees, and, ultimately, take pride in their work. Similar to any other job, the great work of Merit’s employees are recognized and rewarded, further fueling the pride and passion in their work.
When given the job skills, confidence and accountability to prove themselves, Merit’s employees ultimately become hopeful. That hope can be carried with them for a lifetime after they are released and prevent falling back into hold habits. This hope is what has kept the recidivism rate for Merit Partners alumni to under 10%, and propels them to live proud, positive lives.
Tom Gammon is a former Silicon Valley executive who conceived Merit Partners with the belief that an offender has to have hope and the ability to work in order to change a life of crime. Mr. Gammon created Merit’s initial prison training model in cooperation with corrections, education, and electronic industry leaders. Merit now provides a bridge for young men with limited electronics experience as they learn vital knowledge about technology in the context of a real job. As Chairman of the Board, Mr. Gammon keeps a clear focus on the offenders and their needs to work, save, and prepare for release. He resides on the Monterey Peninsula of California.