North Carolina to Compensate Sterilization Victims

The state apologizes for eugenics laws.

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North Carolina to compensate victims of eugenics laws. (Thinkstock)

Britt Middleton of BET News is reporting that the state of North Carolina has issued an apology to victims who were sterilized under state eugenics laws and is working on a plan to compensate victims.

Beginning before World War II and ending in 1977, a total of 7,600 men, women and children as young as 10 years old were sterilized under North Carolina's eugenics laws, the Associated Press reports. The state estimates that between 1,500 and 2,000 of those victims are still living.

In an effort to maintain segregation, white women who crossed color lines were sterilized. Blacks and Latinos were sterilized to maintain immigration patterns and racial ratios. Victims were forced to have their children sterilized under the threat of losing their land, public assistance or custody of their children. Victims were identified by any "law-abiding citizen," who had the duty to report "promiscuous" behavior.

In 2002 Gov. Bev Purdue formed "the Eugenics Task Force" to to locate victims and to hash out details of a compensation plan. Amounts could range from $20,000 to $50,000. Lawmakers closely involved with the case have been working with the state for 10 years to reach a resolution and are unsure when one may come.

Sterilizing children and dragging your feet on compensating victims, many of whom are dying off, is not cool. While other states had similar laws, North Carolina is the only state to offer a compensation plan, which should be applauded. Now the state needs to act on it.

This good deed must have some follow-through in the form of making sure victims are compensated in order to make the acknowledgment or wrongdoing and apology meaningful. Unless they adopted children, many of the victims probably don't have heirs, so time really is of the essence.

Read more at BET News.

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