How Tulsa’s Only Jail Teacher Tries To Swing Recidivism Odds


The Tulsa World profiles Sherri Knight, the only full-time teacher in Tulsa’s David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center, which houses 100 inmates. Teaching atg the jail isn’t easy, because she gets to do little of it. Instead of spending time on lessons, she has to wait for doors to unlock, for court hearings to end, for detention officers to finish inspections, for paperwork, and for funding.

Knight now has 16 underage students in one pod, plus another 26 older students scattered across the jail. State law requires Tulsa to offer an education to any inmate up to age 21 if they haven’t graduated high school. When they eventually get out of jail, nearly seven out of 10 juvenile offenders are likely to be arrested again within three years, says the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. If they graduate high school or pass the GED, the numbers change dramatically. More than 53 percent will never face a criminal charge again. For Knight, that’s motivation. Maybe she can help a few get diplomas and swing the odds in their favor.

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