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 ruthless and devastating war on drugs, Sharanda had been torn from the arms of her young daughter and was serving a life sentence without parole–all for a first-time drug offense. In Sharanda, Brittany saw haunting echoes of own life, both as the daughter of a formerly incarcerated mother and the one-time girlfriend of an abusive drug dealer. As she studied Sharanda’s case, a system slowly came into focus: one where widespread racial injustice forms the core of our country’s addiction to incarceration. Moved by Sharanda’s plight, Brittany began to work towards her freedom.
This had never been the plan. Bright and ambitious, Brittany was already a successful accountant with her sights set on a high-powered future in corporate law. But Sharanda’s case opened the door to a harrowing journey through the criminal justice system, in which people could be locked up for life under misguided appeals for law and order. Driven by the realization that her clients’ fates could have easily been her own, Brittany soon found herself on a quest to unlock the human potential of those our society has forgotten how to see. Living a double life, she moved billion dollar corporate deals by day, and by night worked pro bono to free Sharanda and others in near-impossible legal battles. Ultimately, her journey transformed her understanding of injustice in the courts, of genius languishing behind bars, and the very definition of freedom itself. A Knock at Midnight is Brittany’s riveting, inspirational memoir, 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 both at every turn.