A task force appointed by North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue has issued its preliminary report about how to compensate victims of a statewide program of sterilizing citizens who were deemed unfit to reproduce.

Press release from the N.C. Department of Administration, shared on July 19:

RALEIGH – The N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation is again accepting victim verification requests. As per S187, the Foundation will continue operations. At this time, its primary function will be to provide verification assistance to individuals who believe they were involuntarily sterilized under the auspices of the former N.C. Eugenics Board.

When the Foundation suspended intake of verification requests on June 20, it had more than 140 such requests in process. Additional forms have since been received. The office will continue to process such requests to provide answers to individuals who think they may have been sterilized under this former program.

Since the legislature provided no operational funding for the Foundation, the N.C. Department of Administration will trim allocations for other agency services and programs to enable it to remain open. It is now staffed only by Executive Director Charmaine Fuller Cooper.

Although financial compensation was not included in the final budget, it is possible that lawmakers may revisit this issue next year. Gov. Bev Perdue, who established the Foundation and the Eugenics Compensation Task Force, supported legislation that would have provided $50,000 in lump sum compensation to verified living victims. Her budget included $10.3 million for this and continued operation of the foundation.

To date, the foundation has verified 161 eugenics victims in 57 counties, including 146 living victims, with confidential N.C. Eugenics Board records housed at State Archives. All public record documents relevant to the N.C. Eugenics Board program, as well as those related to more recent activities of the Foundation, are available online through the North Carolina Digital Collections or the Foundation website.

The N.C. Eugenics Board implemented a program of involuntary sterilization that took place in all 100 counties between 1929 and 1974. By the end of the program, nearly 7,600 documented people were sterilized. The N.C. State Center for Health Statistics last month revised down its projection of likely living victims from about 1,500 to 2,000 to about 1,350 to 1,800.

For information about filing a victim verification request, contact the Foundation by calling its toll-free hotline 877-550-6013 (or 919-807-4270), or visit its website: www.sterilizationvictims.nc.gov.

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Angie Newsome was the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at anewsome@carolinapublicpress.org.

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