N. Carolina Will Pay $10M to Forced Sterilization Victims

First state to compensate eugenics victims

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 27, 2013 5:45 PM CDT

(Newser) – Over a period of 45 years, North Carolina forcibly sterilized 7,600 people it deemed mentally or socially unfit. Now, 39 years since the state's eugenics program ended in 1974, it will finally make reparations, with lawmakers earmarking $10 million to compensate victims, reports the Wall Street Journal. "No amount that we can afford to pay is enough," says a state lawmaker. "But this is sufficient for the living victims to know that the state of North Carolina sincerely regrets the injustice that we've done to them."

The state has only identified 177 victims of the program so far. It estimates three-quarters of those sterilized are now dead, and others are difficult to track down due to incomplete records, name changes, and marriages. Part of the $10 million will go to the administrative costs of tracking down more victims. North Carolina was just one of 33 states with eugenics programs, reports CNN. More than 60,000 people across the country were forcibly sterilized last century—20,000 in California alone. But North Carolina will be the first state to compensate its victims. "The money don't take up the place of what happened," says one man, now 80, who was sterilized at age 14, per the Journal. "I'm glad they did something, though."

Elaine Riddick, who was sterilized as a young girl in North Carolina.
Elaine Riddick, who was sterilized as a young girl in North Carolina.   (AP Photo/The News & Observer, Shawn Rocco)
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