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$10.3 million for eugenics compensation
Perdue to ask N.C. lawmakers to OK funds
Published Wednesday, April 25, 2012 12:47 pm
by Herbert L. White

Gov. Bev Perdue’s proposed budget will include $10.3 million for people involuntarily sterilized by the state.

N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue

Perdue, a Democrat who is not seeking re-election, said the money would be used for $50,000 payments to verified victims of the former N.C. Eugenics Board program, which sterilized more than 7,000 residents for nearly 50 years. Some of the money would fund operations of the N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation, an outreach and clearinghouse agency. 

“We cannot change the terrible things that happened to so many of our most vulnerable citizens, but we can take responsibility for our state’s mistakes and show that we do not tolerate violations of basic human rights,” Perdue said in a statement. “We must provide meaningful assistance to victims, so I am including this funding in my budget.”

The request is based upon the recommendations of the Eugenics Compensation Task Force, which called for a tax-free, lump sum payment to living eugenics patients and those who were alive when their cases were verified. Future appropriations may be required if additional victims are identified and verified.

“I highly commend the governor for taking the experiences of victims to heart while developing a package that can produce bipartisan support,” said Rep. Larry Womble (D-Winston-Salem), an early advocate of eugenics reparations. “This has dragged on too long. It is essential that the General Assembly heed the governor’s call for compensation this session.”

The N.C. Eugenics Board recommended and carried out involuntary sterilizations in all 100 counties from 1929-74. The number of victims matched to state program records stands at 132 people in 51 counties.

Lenoir County has the most verifications with 19, followed by Mecklenburg with 12 and Wake with 11. Mecklenburg had the highest number of sterilizations in the state with 495, followed by Guilford with 167 and Gaston at 161. Two counties ranked in the Top 10 for number of procedures – Scotland and Buncombe – have no matches to date.

The Republican-controlled General Assembly must approve eugenics funding, but lawmakers from both parties have voiced support for compensation.

“Gov. Perdue’s budget includes a thoughtful and fiscally smart approach to righting the legacy of this shameful stain on North Carolina’s history,” said Rep. Earline Parmon, a Winston-Salem Democrat. “A recurring appropriation spread over several years will allow citizens time to come forward while the state sets up processes to adequately search for victims.”

Said Sen. Floyd McKissick (D-Durham): “Compensation is long overdue. We will work with the leadership of both houses to get this passed before the end of this fiscal year.”

If you believe you have been affected by the N.C. eugenics program or know someone who has, call 877-550-6013 or (919) 807-4270 for information.

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