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Compensation recommended for NC sterilizations

Elaine Riddick is one of the victims of North Carolina's sterilization program.

 

RALEIGH, N.C. – A task force investigating the forced sterilization of about 7,600 people in North Carolina said in a draft report Monday that survivors should get money as compensation but is not yet sure how much.

Figures ranging from $20,000 to $50,000 have been recommended for the 3,000 victims who are still alive but the Eugenics Task Force said it needs more time to consider those and other amounts. Any compensation should be exempt from state taxes, the report said.

Panel members also want to consider a request that victims’ estates be eligible for compensation.

“We know that in a period of tight budgets, compensation may not be popular among your constituents,” the task force said in a letter to Gov. Beverly Perdue that accompanies the report. “For many citizens, it may be hard to justify spending millions when the state is cutting back on other essential services. But the fact is, there never will be a good time to redress these wrongs and the victims have already waited too long.”

A spokeswoman said the governor had no immediate comment.

The state ended the sterilization program in 1977, three years after the last procedure. In 2002, then-Gov. Mike Easley apologized for the program.

Women and girls made up about 85 percent of the victims in North Carolina, which ramped up its sterilizations after World War II. Around 70 percent of all North Carolina’s sterilizations were performed after the war, peaking in the 1950s, according to state records.

Nationwide, there were more than 60,000 known victims of sterilization programs, with perhaps another 40,000 sterilized through “unofficial” channels like hospitals or local health departments working on their own initiative. Eugenics was aimed at creating a better society by filtering out people considered undesirable, ranging from criminals to those imprecisely designated as “feeble-minded.”

Sterilization victim “raped by the state of NC”

In June, CBS Evening News did a report about the forced sterilizations in North Carolina. It affected Beverly Riddick who, as a then-14-year-old rape victim in the late 1960s, was sterilized under orders by the state after she gave birth.

“I’ve always been able to take care of myself – I’ve never been promiscuous,” Riddick, now 57, told CBS News. “So how can people use these things to describe a child that had been abandoned? Or that had been raped by the neighbor and then again, raped by the state of North Carolina.”

About a half dozen other states have apologized for their eugenics program, but none has a plan to compensate victims.

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