"America's War on Drugs is really its own unchecked addiction to incarceration."

MiAngel Cody picks locks to human cages. She is nationally recognized for her dedicated defense of men and women sentenced to life in federal prison. MiAngel has defended hundreds of people in federal court and won freedom for 40 prisoners sentenced to life in prison for drugs. Her victories include 6 successful commutations from the President of the United States. MiAngel has been described nationally as a “Powerhouse Litigator.” During her historic #90DaysOfFreedom Campaign, in three short months, MiAngel and her team won freedom for 17 federal prisoners unfairly sentenced to life without parole for drugs. She is a 2014 recipient of the Federal Bar Association’s National Younger Federal Lawyer of the Year Award. In 2019, the American Constitution Society honored Ms. Cody as a “Legal Legend” and Essence Magazine named her a “Top 100 Changemaker in America.”

Before launching her own criminal defense firm, MiAngel worked as a commercial litigator and Chicago Federal Defender. Prior to becoming a lawyer, MiAngel was a capital investigator who spent seven years listening to death row prisoners in Louisiana and Georgia. She believes the Sixth Amendment demands the highest caliber of representation for those with the least financial means, especially when their freedom or life is at stake.

As a writer and producer, MiAngel curates stories that expose the trauma and survivorship of those trapped in America’s criminal courts. MiAngel has seen incarcerated fathers and mothers kiss children goodbye. She’s watched judges lament that mandatory sentencing laws left them hamstrung with no discretion. She’s seen people leave prison with no ID card, no home, no medicine, no methadone, no health insurance, no bus card, no education & no job prospects. She has stood with many people as they were sent into cages. And she’s received desperate calls when those same people returned from prison with nothing. Ultimately, she’s witnessed a system dehumanize humans and, in doing so, become dehumanized itself.


“A Love Letter to Black Women,” National Civil Rights Museum Catalyst For Change Speaker Series, February 12, 2019.

“‘But the Legislation Doesn’t Go Far Enough’: It’s Time to Check Our Unincarcerated Privilege in the Conversation About Sentencing Reform” May 24, 2016. The Huffington Post.

“Combatting Racial and Ethnic Injustice in the American Criminal Justice System,” National Seminar For Federal Defenders, May 27, 2015

“Winning Theories for Mental Health & Mitigation in Sentencing,” Administrative Office of the Courts Federal Defender Seminar, May 14, 2015

Death by Imprisonment: America’s War on Melanin Possession and the Indigent” Aug. 3, 2014. The Huffington  Post.

“Changing Sentences, Changing Lives: Reinvigorating Presidential Clemency to Dismantle Mass Incarceration,” ACLU/FAMM Keynote, Washington, D.C., May 2014

“Constitution USA: The Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel,” PBS documentary series featured constitutional expert, May 2013


Federal Bar Association Younger Federal Lawyer of the Year Award (2014)

Excellence in Public Service Award, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (2014)

Xavier University of Louisiana 40 Under 40 Alumni Awards Honoree (2016)

Excellence Award – Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Chicago (2017)

Open Society Foundation – Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowship (2018)


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Buried Alive Project and Decarceration Collective: Two Attorneys Join Forces To Pick The Locks Essence Magazine Barnett, founder of the Buried Alive Project,” and MiAngel Cody, founder and lead counsel of the Decarceration Collective, partnered to create the “90 Days of Freedom Campaign”

Why These Prison Reform Attorneys Are Immensely Grateful For Kim Kardashian’s Support TIME MAGAZINE When it comes to the cause, their energy is boundless, Barnett through her Buried Alive Project and Cody as founder of The Decarceration Collective.

Meet the Black prison reform warriors behind new Third Strike project and who guide Kim Kardashian The Grio Brittany K. Barnett and MiAngel Cody are warrior attorneys with a mission: freeing drug offenders serving life in a federal system they’re working to …

Kim Kardashian West locks arms with prison reform warriors The Philadelphia Tribune NEW YORK — Brittany K. Barnett and MiAngel Cody are warrior attorneys with a mission: freeing nonviolent drug offenders serving life in a federal …

Meet Brittany K. Barnett and MiAngel Cody, the Lawyers Behind Kim Kardashian’s Prison Reform …Eurweb.com*While Kim Kardashian receives all the praise for her work with the criminal justice system and the freeing of inmates, it’s two sistas, attorneys Brittany …

Black Girl Magic”: Black Women Lawyers Freed 17 Inmates Serving Life SentencesSeattle MediumHopefully, it will also shine a light on the African American women lawyers, like Anne Barnett, Topika Sam and MiAngel Cody, who many argue …

Yo Gotti Has A Birthday Wish For Kim KardashianBETKim Kardashian’s lawyers Brittany K. Barnett and MiAngel Cody of The Decarceration Collective have been working hard to free prisoners who …

Buried Alive Project and Decarceration Collective: Two Attorneys Join Forces To Pick The Locks …EssenceOver the last three months, powerhouse attorneys Brittany K. Barnett, 35, and MiAngel Cody, 39, quietly made history by freeing 17 people who had …

Kim Kardashian Did Help Free 17 Inmates — But These Two Women Actually Did the Work!BlackNews.com (press release)Nationwide — Two Black female attorneys, Brittany K. Barnett and MiAngel Cody, are finally being given due credit for recently freeing 17 prisoners …