The time to file a claim is now

North Carolina will soon be the first state in the nation to compensate victims of officially sanctioned sterilizations, a significant number of which took place in Buncombe County. But the window for compensation claims closes at the end of June 2014.

In an April 14 press release from the state’s Department of Administration, Gov. Pat McCrory said that “while the physical and emotional effects of forced sterilization are immeasurable, compensation is a small tangible way of showing support for the burdens they are forced to carry.”

Under a law passed last year, certified victims of North Carolina’s eugenics program, which spanned from the 1920s to the 1970s, will split $10 million in compensation funds from the state. A few hundred claimants, so far, have come forward.

To be compensated, victims must file a form that is due by June 30 of this year (the form is available below). If the form is incomplete when filed, it will still be eligible for starting the compensation process, according to Chris Mears, the Department of Administration’s spokesperson.

Mears told Carolina Public Press that the department is in a race against time.

“We’re really trying to get the word out,” he said. “The problem is that a lot of these folks are older, and they’re passing away, so we’re kind of up against the clock to make this happen for them.”

Buncombe’s big role

Some 7,600 individuals were sterilized under North Carolina’s eugenics program. Western North Carolina saw few sterilizations, except in Buncombe County, where at least 139 people were subjected to the life-changing procedure.

Learn more

For more reporting from Carolina Public Press on North Carolina’s eugenics program, go here to read our special report.

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Jon Elliston is the lead contributing open government reporter at Carolina Public Press. Contact him at

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