Payouts to NC eugenics victims could be modest - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Payouts to NC eugenics victims could be modest

Posted: Updated:
A proposed budget agreement sets aside $10 million for one-time payments to North Carolina's forced sterilization victims. A proposed budget agreement sets aside $10 million for one-time payments to North Carolina's forced sterilization victims.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

A proposed budget agreement sets aside $10 million for one-time payments to North Carolina's forced sterilization victims, but the final amount paid to each individual will depend on how many come forward.

Under the terms of the $20.6 billion compromise budget unveiled by the Republican legislative majority on Sunday, each verified victim of the state-sponsored eugenics program that ended in the 1970s will split an equal share of the $10 million.

North Carolina forcibly sterilized about 7,600 people whom the state deemed feeble-minded or otherwise undesirable between 1929 and 1974. Some of the victims were as young as 10 and chosen because they were promiscuous or did not get along with their schoolmates.

N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation, a group created by the state to study the issue, estimated last year that as many as 1,800 victims may still be alive. However, the only 168 living victims had then come forward to have their identities verified against state records.

The legislature has debated for years whether to compensate eugenics victims. A bill to pay each living victim $50,000 passed the state House last year with the support of then-Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue and Speaker Thom Tillis, but stalled in the Senate. Opponents questioned whether the plan could set a precedent for other groups to seek compensation, such as American Indians or the descendants of African slaves.

As lawmakers have debated the issue, hundreds of the aging victims are thought to have died.

Jordan Shaw, Tillis' spokesman, said Monday the $10 million in the budget was a compromise based on trying to pay each verified sterilization victim $50,000 while addressing concerns of some in the Senate that total costs could balloon if hundreds of additional victims come forward.

The $10 million in the current bill will cover payments of $50,000 each for 200 people. If 1,000 victims are eventually verified, however, the $10 million now on the table will cover payments of only $10,000 each.

Former Rep. Larry Womble, a Winston-Salem Democrat who helped lead the fight to compensate the victims, said Monday that regardless of the final amount paid to each survivor, the state is making an important statement. North Carolina is set to become the first state to pay compensation to the victims of a government-run sterilization program.

"There really is no amount of money that can make them whole again," Womble said.

While many states had similar eugenics programs, most of them were abandoned after the practice was associated with the Nazis after World War II. But North Carolina actually expanded its program after the war.

The budget bill covers all victims still living as of June 30. Payments will be issued in 2015 to all verified through state records, or their survivors.

Though the bill specifies the names of those compensated be kept confidential, Womble said he doubts there will be a rush of hundreds of victims coming forward to seek payment.

"It all depends on who steps forward, because many still don't want it to be known that this was done to them," he said.

RELATED STORIES

  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • 2 charged with first-degree murder in beating death of UNC professor, cancer researcher

    2 charged with first-degree murder in beating death of UNC professor, cancer researcher

    Friday, July 25 2014 9:00 AM EDT2014-07-25 13:00:14 GMT
    A UNC research professor was robbed and beaten to death Wednesday afternoon on University Drive in Chapel Hill, police said.
    A UNC research professor was robbed and beaten to death Wednesday afternoon on University Drive in Chapel Hill, police said.
  • Twitter pages show NC college binge drinkers passed out

    Twitter pages show NC college binge drinkers passed out

    Friday, July 25 2014 10:03 PM EDT2014-07-26 02:03:40 GMT
    Binge drinking is not a new problem on college campuses but there is a new way people are seeing its impact.Twitter pages are popping up at college campus around the country for the sole purpose of showing students passed out from drinking too much.
    Binge drinking is not a new problem on college campuses but there is a new way people are seeing its impact.Twitter pages are popping up at college campus around the country for the sole purpose of showing students passed out from drinking too much.
  • Woman impales herself on cemetery fence; says she was running from attacker

    Woman impales herself on cemetery fence; says she was running from attacker

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 2:53 PM EDT2014-07-23 18:53:18 GMT
    A woman claims she was running from an attacker and tried to jump a five foot fence when she became impaled. Firefighters had to use power saws and a grinding saw to cut her free, all while she was conscious. After 30 minutes she was transported to an area hospital for surgery to remove the spike sticking out of her thigh. It happened at Vine Cemetery in Hazleton. She said the nearest gate was locked. Witnesses backed...
    A woman claims she was running from an attacker and tried to jump a five foot fence when she became impaled. Firefighters had to use power saws and a grinding saw to cut her free, all while she was conscious. After 30 minutes she was transported to an area hospital for surgery to remove the spike sticking out of her thigh. It happened at Vine Cemetery in Hazleton. She said the nearest gate was locked. Witnesses backed...
Powered by WorldNow

WSLS 10, P.O. Box 10
Roanoke, VA 24022-0010

Telephone: 540.981.9110
Fax: 540.343.3157
Email: news@wsls.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.