Center Assists Eugenics Victims in Struggle for Compensation

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The Center represents heirs of just a few of the thousands of victims of North Carolina's Eugenics policy in three appeals challenging the Eugenics Compensation Program's arbitrary exclusion of victims who died before June 30, 2013. These appeals all challenge the "living victim threshold" as a violation of equal protection under our state constitution. The Center is co-counseling on two of the cases with pro bono counsel Ed Pressly of Pressly, Thomas & Conley, PA of Statesville, NC. The Center recently submitted a brief (PDF) to the NC Court of Appeals regarding the exclusion of a victim who died prior to 2013.

In June 2013 the state legislature adopted a bill setting aside $10 million to compensate the victims of the state eugenics program, under which more than 7,600 people—including over 2,000 children—were forcibly sterilized between 1929 and 1974. Of these individuals, at least 40% were African American and 90% women. Investigative reports in 2014 estimated that more than 1,800 victims of involuntary sterilizations authorized by the all-white, 5-member Eugenics Board were still living. Little was done to reach out to those victims or their families during the one-year window to file claims.  In addition, hundreds of claims that were submitted for compensation have been denied because the records of their sterilization by the state were maintained in county offices and not sent to the state Eugenics Board, or because of the arbitrary statute of limitations imposed by the State. Both these restrictive interpretations of the compensation statute are now being consider by the Court of Appeals.

Posted by Elizabeth M. Haddix on Fri. September 4, 2015 11:13 AM
Categories: Sterilization
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