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NC eugenics task force calls for victim payments

Posted August 1, 2011
Updated August 2, 2011

— The state task force investigating the forced sterilization of about 7,600 people recommended Monday that North Carolina pay victims for their pain.

The Eugenics Task Force gave its draft report to Gov. Beverly Perdue, but members emphasized that changes could be made before the final report is issued next February.

The task force recommended providing lump-sum payments to each of the 1,500 to 2,000 victims who are still alive, but the group hasn't settled on the amount of the payment.

The state Industrial Commission, which handles tort claims against the state, previously suggested $20,000 as compensation to each victim, but one legislator recommended $50,000.

"The Task Force emphasizes that no amount of damages is meant to place a value on a victim's life or life lost and also recognizes that setting a damages figure that is too low may be perceived disrespectfully and could result in further victimization," the report states. "Any amount that is recommended will require legislative approval, and the Task Forces is aware that legislative approval may come in phases."

Roughly 85 percent of those sterilized were women or girls. The state ended the program in 1977, three years after the last sterilization was performed.

In 2002, then-Gov. Mike Easley formally apologized for the program.

The task force also recommended state-funded mental health services for living victims, a traveling museum exhibit to educate people about the eugenics program and continued funding for the Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation, which provides support for victims and their families.

Families of dead sterilization victims disappointed by lack of compensation Families of dead sterilization victims disappointed by lack of compensation

"Even if they awarded you a million-billion dollars, it's still not enough for the pain you go through," said Australia Clay, whose mother, Margaret Cheek, was sterilized.

Cheek was admitted to Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro in 1953 and stayed there for 12 years because doctors said she was schizophrenic. Clay said her mother, who died 10 years ago, simply suffered from post-partum depression.

The task force didn't recommend any compensation for the families of sterilization victims who have already died. Clay said that disappoints her.

"People will say, 'It happened. Get over it.' That's easy for people to say. It's not that easy for a family member," she said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • fatchanceimwrong Aug 2, 2011

    Were all of those sterilized black? That's all I see in any of the pictures.

  • wildcat Aug 2, 2011

    Victim payments should be donated to the NAACP

    Absolutely Not. Give the money to the NC Central Childrens Home right here in NC. They could really use the finance and support.

  • wildcat Aug 2, 2011

    Another form of greed. If they love children that much adopt,foster etc. There are many people that could not have children naturally or with help. You don't see them whinning and crying about it. They move on. These people should do the same and stop making a scape-goat out of NC. You deserved nothing, in my opinion. If they pay these people; pay the slave decendants. Lord that would sure help me out a great deal.

  • randall0123a Aug 2, 2011

    “Victim payments should be donated to the NAACP and not given to the victims.” - ProudBlackSingleMother

    Are you a comedian? Must be, as you are referring to a racist organization that has nothing to do with this. Obviously you must be one of the people that think you are “deserving.” If you don’t like racism, then please stop following the NAACP, as it just makes you a hypocrite. That said, the ONLY people that I feel for are the true victims of this. The criminals – yes, please continue to sterilize them. Severely mentally handicapped people, they do not need to breed. Basically, if you can take care of yourself and your children, WITHOUT taxpayer money, then please, breed. So, this brings me to the ONLY victims of this – the women/girls that were raped then sterilized. They should have sterilized the rapist! Any family member that wants money from this should be cast out on the street and all their assets given to the state, as these people are worthless.

  • wildcat Aug 2, 2011

    I don't believe these people should receive one dime. They should absolutely move on. Are the going to pay the slave decendants. No one ask to be be a slave back then. It happen so move on.

  • 4Cats Aug 2, 2011

    I was under the impression that the families of these so called victims made the choice to have the procedure done...therefore, if these victims want restitution, then talk to your family who signed you up for the program.

  • randall0123a Aug 2, 2011

    Vox-Populi – “You also didn't have anything to do with building the highways you drive on, yet you use them.”

    Incorrect. We (those of us that do PAY taxes rather than draw money from the system) have everything to do with building highways, and every other program run by the government that we all depend on to function as a society. ALL of these are already in crisis due to the strained budget. We pay our taxes to have these social services performed, not to give a payday for 34 year old injustices. These people want to take advantage of the situation. If they have not healed by now, $$ won’t change anything. Would they still want the $$ if they were told for every payout we would have to lay off a police officer, teacher, judge, prison guard or other public servant, or stop repairing a road or bridge that is failing? These are services they also benefit by, including welfare and other programs that I am willing to bet many of them are already using (abusing). So, if knowing t

  • No More freeloading Aug 2, 2011

    Clay just wants money for nothing. She wasn't the one sterilized and her mother has passed away. Another "gimme, gimme"

  • thewayitis Aug 2, 2011

    Any payments made should only be made to the people who are still living, and not to relatives. Family members should not benefit from this, although I have no problem with a reasonable payment to those who actually suffered from this treatment.

  • chevybelair57sd Aug 2, 2011

    Once again I say if bad government choices are recompensable, I think we all deserve a big refund from NC and DC!!!