A portion of the summary file for a 18-year-old girl from Rutherford County who was sterilized during the state's eugenics program. Click to view full-size image.

Press release from the N.C. Department of Administration, shared May 16:

If passed, bill will approve $50,000 lump-sum payment to confirmed victims

RALEIGH – Legislation to officially compensate victims of the former N.C. Eugenics Board program was filed today by a bipartisan group of lawmakers including Rep. Larry Womble (D-Forsyth), Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg), Rep. Earline Parmon (D-Forsyth) and Rep. Skip Stam (R-Wake). A Senate companion bill is expected to be filed shortly.

“I am encouraged that legislators are working together in the best interests of citizens who were affected by this repugnant program,” said Gov. Bev Perdue. “We owe it to those who were harmed so many years ago that we take action now, during this session, and provide compensation and services to eligible recipients.”

Currently, 132 individuals have been verified by the N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation, of which 118 (about 90 percent) are living. More verification requests are being researched with assistance from State Archivists.

Titled HB947: Eugenics Compensation Program, the bill reflects the recommendations of the Governor’s Eugenics Compensation Task Force, which filed its final report in January. It will establish a $10 million fund from which to issue a lump-sum, tax-free payment of $50,000 to eligible recipients and sets a deadline of Dec. 31, 2015, to file a claim.

The bill assigns final determination of compensation eligibility to the Industrial Commission. When approved, payment will be issued through the Office of the State Treasurer.

Additionally, the bill provides continued funding for the Sterilization Victims Foundation, which serves as a clearinghouse for verification requests and will be empowered to advocate on behalf of verified victims.

“We can and must take care of the victims who have waited all these years to be heard,” said Rep. Larry Womble, of Forsyth County, an early supporter and sponsor of compensation legislation. “There are some folks who doubted that this day would finally come. It’s taken too long, but we now stand ready to open the door and financially acknowledge the suffering the state brought to so many.”

If you believe you are or know someone who may have been affected by the N.C. Eugenics Boards program, call the Sterilization Victims Foundation’s toll-free hotline 877-550-6013 (or 919-807-4270) for information, 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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