Brittany K. Barnett
Company: Buried Alive Project
Title: Attorney, author and co-founder
Even as the legal cannabis industry continues to spread across the country, thousands of Americans remain imprisoned for doing the things that today are considered business instead of crime.
That’s where Brittany K. Barnett comes in.
Barnett co-founded the Buried Alive Project, which provides pro-bono legal representation to people serving draconian sentences for outdated drug laws.
“There’s nothing more urgent than freedom,” she says.
While working as a corporate lawyer, Barnett says she was “living a double-life,” making business deals by day and working on drug cases by night. Barnett worked pro-bono on the case of Sharanda Jones, a Black woman from the rural South, like her, who was serving a life sentence for her first conviction.
It took six years and nine months of work, but Jones received clemency from then-President Barack Obama, having been imprisoned for 16 years.
Then Barnett worked to free Corey Jacobs, who was also serving a life sentence. Then seven more clients received clemency, all under an Obama-era reform program.
Although she loved “the thrill of the deal,” Barnett left her corporate job as Obama’s presidency neared the end and joined with Jones and Jacobs to co-found the Buried Alive Project, which has now freed more than 50 men and women who were “set to die in prison.”
“We are truly working to unlock people’s potential,” she says. “This work is truly my life’s calling. It is a privilege, an honor for me to do this work.”
She published her memoir, “A Knock at Midnight,” in 2020, and is now working to provide “sustainable liberation” for those who are freed. She recently invested in a cannabis company as well.
“There’s a lot of work to be done as it relates to restorative justice,” she says.