Compensation urged for sterilization victims

by jeeg 15. August 2011 22:06

The state should compensate victims sterilized under a eugenics program and provide them with mental health services, a task force recommended Monday.

In a preliminary report to Gov. Bev Perdue, the task force also recommended funding for an N.C. Eugenics exhibit and keeping the N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation. The final report is due in February.

From the 1920s to the 1970s, the N.C. Board of Eugenics oversaw the sterilization of nearly 7,600 people. Most are no longer alive.

Former Gov. Mike Easley apologized to eugenics victims in 2002, but no compensation has been approved.

Perdue's task force endorsed a "significant financial damages package," but it did not specify an amount.

In the years the state has been debating about eugenics victims, compensation amounts have been recommended ranging from $20,000 to $50,000. The task force reported it needs more time to get feedback and work on a number, which will be in its final report.

Some victims said the state should stop procrastinating. "I don't think it's fair to the victims that they're doing this at their own pace," Elaine Riddick of Atlanta told the Associated Press. Riddick, 57, was sterilized when she was 14.

The state-funded Eugenics Board determined that certain groups of people - those who were poor, undereducated or mentally unstable - were unfit to carry on the responsibility of parenthood.

A state statistician estimated last month that 1,500 to 2,000 people sterilized under the program are still alive.

The task force also is considering requests that compensation be offered to victims' estates. The state legislature must approve any compensation plan.

Alan Wolf, News Observer


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