An urgent call to free those buried alive by America’s legal system, and an inspiring true story about unwavering belief in humanity—from a gifted young lawyer and important new voice in the movement to transform the system.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE SUMMER BY USA TODAY AND NEWSWEEK • “An essential book for our time . . . Brittany K. Barnett is a star.”—Van Jones, CEO of REFORM Alliance, CNN Host, and New York Times bestselling author
Brittany K. Barnett was only a law student when she came across the case that would change her life forever—that of Sharanda Jones, single mother, business owner, and, like Brittany, Black daughter of the rural South. A victim of America’s devastating war on drugs, Sharanda had been torn away from her young daughter and was serving a life sentence without parole—for a first-time drug offense. In Sharanda, Brittany saw haunting echoes of her own life, both as the daughter of a formerly incarcerated mother and as the once-girlfriend of an abusive drug dealer. As she studied this case, a system came into focus: one where widespread racial injustice forms the core of America’s addiction to incarceration. Moved by Sharanda’s plight, Brittany set to work to gain her freedom.
This had never been the plan. Bright and ambitious, Brittany was a successful accountant on her way to a high-powered future in corporate law. But Sharanda’s case opened the door to a harrowing journey through the criminal justice system. By day she moved billion-dollar deals, and by night she worked pro bono to free clients in near-hopeless legal battles. Ultimately, her path transformed her understanding of injustice in the courts, of genius languishing behind bars, and the very definition of freedom itself.
Brittany’s riveting memoir is at once a coming-of-age story and a powerful evocation of what it takes to bring hope and justice to a system built to resist them both.
About the Author
Brittany K. Barnett is an award-winning attorney and entrepreneur focused on social impact investing. She is dedicated to transforming the criminal justice system and has won freedom for numerous clients serving life sentences for federal drug offenses—seven of whom received executive clemency from President Barack Obama. Brittany has founded several social enterprises, such as XVI Capital Partners, Milena Reign LLC, the Buried Alive Project, and Girls Embracing Mothers. She has earned many honors, including being named one of America's most Outstanding Young Lawyers by the American Bar Association.
“A Knock at Midnight is a book that is just right for this smoldering moment, a memoir that offers an irresistible invitation to examine the evolution and the impact of injustice in America.”—Michele Norris, contributing columnist at The Washington Post and founding director of The Race Card Project
“With a penetrating honesty, Brittany K. Barnett masterfully unlocks the mysterious doors of the prison system, revealing a long tradition of racial injustice and inequality. In the spirit of great films like Ava DuVernay’s 13th, A Knock at Midnight is both an educational tool and a call to action that will leave readers enlightened and inspired for years to come.”—Shaka Senghor, author of Writing My Wrongs
“Having worked side by side with Brittany on criminal justice reform for years, I knew about her heroic commitment to justice. I knew she was a brilliant attorney and advocate. I even knew that she was the daughter of a formerly incarcerated mother. What I didn’t know before I read this book is that on top of everything else, Brittany is a first-rate storyteller. With heartfelt clarity and conviction, she delivers a powerful story of courage and hope, along with a good dose of the messy truth about our nation’s broken criminal justice system. America desperately needs stories just like this one. A Knock at Midnight is an essential book for our time, and Brittany K. Barnett is a star.”—Van Jones, CEO of REFORM Alliance, CNN Host, and New York Times bestselling author
“Brittany’s passion, ambition, hard work, and commitment to excellence have produced an unparalleled record of success at a young age. I have been personally touched by her incredible dedication to advancing justice and her unwavering and selfless dedication to freedom. Brittany is an angel on earth, and it is time for the world to see the full span of her wings.”—Sean “Diddy” Combs
“ Barnett tells each client’s story fully, allowing readers to grasp the weight of years of incarceration and the impact of the War on Drugs on the Black community. Her writing captures both the precision of law and the emotion of seeking freedom. A riveting memoir of injustice, resilience, and hope.”—Booklist (starred review)
“A welcome new addition to . . . books about the critically flawed U.S. legal system . . . Considering her youthfulness, [Brittany] Barnett has accomplished more reform than most individuals could accomplish in two lifetimes.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Lawyer and activist Barnett weaves together memoir, biography, and legal drama in a powerful and moving story. . . . This is an essential read for anyone seeking to understand the devastating effects of mandatory drug sentencing and looking for inspiration to seek change.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“A crusading lawyer battles unfair sentences meted out in the 'war on drugs' in this passionate memoir. . . . An engrossing legal drama complete with wrenching reversals and redemptions, this account richly humanizes defendants while incisively analyzing deep flaws in America's justice system.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)