Between 1929 and 1974, an estimated 7,600 people across North Carolina were sterilized by choice, force or coercion under the authority of the North Carolina Eugenics Board Program. The exact number of victims alive today is unknown. However, the State Center for Health Statistics estimates that 2,944 victims may be living as of 2010.
Richmond County is believed to have 46 sterilized people, and those people are eligible for $50,000.
The five-member Eugenics Compensation Task Force established by Gov. Bev Perdue to identify compensation options for victims of the state’s former eugenics program has approved a set of recommendations to be detailed in a final report due by Feb. 1. Notably, they include a lump sum payment of $50,000 to living victims and those who were alive when verified by the North Carolina Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation.
“We are attempting to achieve a level of financial compensation and other services that can provide meaningful assistance,” said Dr. Laura Gerald, Task Force Chair. “Compensation also serves a collective purpose for the state and sends a clear message that we in North Carolina are a people who pay for our mistakes and that we do not tolerate bureaucracies that trample on basic human rights.”
Since the Eugenics Compensation Task Force began trying to identify victims, there have been 74 identified. With hundreds of people remaining quiet about what happened to them, the Task Force cannot properly compensate victims. If you or anyone you know was affected by the North Carolina Eugenics Board Program, call the toll-free hotline 877-550-6013 or 910-807-4270. You can also visit the foundation’s website for more information at www.sterilizationvictims.nc.gov.
Details of Task Force recommendations will be described in the report due to the governor by Feb. 1. Among the other items to be referenced are the continued funding for the North Carolina Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation, the establishment of a three-year period during which individuals may initiate the verification process for the purpose of compensation, an increased outreach effort to verify eugenics victims and increase program awareness, making sure that financial compensation does not negatively impact eligibility for other benefit, the exploration of mental health services for living victims and the creation of educational exhibits.
If you were affected by the North Carolina Eugenics Board Program and are comfortable speaking about your experience, please contact the Daily Journal at 910-997-3111.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.