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House votes to expand compensation for eugenics victims

by Colin CampbellThe News & Observer
June 13th, 2016

Image of the North Carolina legislative building. A white building with blue roofs and a US flag outside.

The N.C. House voted 100-11 Monday to allow four county governments to compensate victims of forced sterilization – expanding a program to help people who were sterilized by state government.

Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam, an Apex Republican and sponsor of a bill calling for the expansion, said he estimates “a couple dozen” people haven’t been eligible for the state compensation program. “A few people have fallen through the legal cracks,” because the state’s Eugenics Board wasn’t responsible for their plight, he said.

Surviving victims of the state program received $50,000 from the state. The board wasn’t responsible for some of the people sterilized at the Dorothea Dix psychiatric hospital in Raleigh, as well as those sterilized by Mecklenburg County health officials.

Mecklenburg County commissioners recently took a unanimous vote to support a local compensation bill, and Wake County leaders say they’d consider a similar program. Mecklenburg records indicate there are six surviving residents who were ineligible for state compensation because they were sterilized under the authority of a local board. The county’s plan would offer them $50,000 each, with total compensation capped at $300,000.

Lawmakers set aside $10 million in 2013 to compensate victims of the state’s eugenics program, but the reparations didn’t go to people who were forcibly sterilized by county governments. From 1929 to 1974, nearly 7,600 people were sterilized under orders from North Carolina’s Eugenics Board, often because they were deemed mentally ill or too poor to have children.

Stam’s bill now heads to the Senate.

In other action Monday in the General Assembly:

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