Mogul, Joey L., Andrea J. Ritchie and Kay Whitlock. Queer (In)justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States. Queer Action/Queer Ideas Ser. Boston: Beacon Press, 2011. Hardcover. 216pp. $27.95. ISBN: 978-0-8070-5116-0.
LGBT persons have long struggled for equality in the United States, often using the courts and justice system in the fight on issues ranging from civil rights to the right to marry a same sex partner, and many works have chronicled this struggle. Queer (In)justice investigates the struggles that LGBT persons have with the criminal justice system itself, and chronicles what can be done by the LGBT community to fight against the “criminalization of LGBT people” in the United States. The book begins with a short history of the development of laws in this country that are aimed at criminalizing gay, lesbian, and transgender behavior through sodomy laws, lewd conduct statutes, and the regulation of vagrancy. More often than not, race and class figured prominently in the punishment for these crimes, as people of color and those with little means to defend themselves became the primary victims of abuses of the legal system in this area.
Mogul, Ritchie, and Whitlock have filled the book with examples of how the LGBT community has been mistreated by the criminal justice system, and how issues of race and socioeconomic status coupled with LGBT identity is used to paint the LGBT community as predators, murderous, and inhuman. The book also gives treatment to the American penal system and exposes the inequalities and atrocities suffered there by members of the LGBT population, especially those identifying as transgender. The final chapter of the work provides recommendations and suggestions on how the LGBT community can organize to ensure that reforms are made in how LGBT persons are treated in the criminal justice system.
Queer (In)justice is recommended for public and academic libraries, especially those containing a strong law or criminal justice collection. It is also recommended for anyone interested in the legal struggles for LGBT rights, especially among minority and immigrant populations.
Reviewed by, Matthew P. Ciszek
Penn State Shenango