- Associated Press - Monday, June 13, 2016

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina lawmakers are set to expand the state’s compensation program for people involuntarily sterilized by government officials several decades ago.

The House on Monday passed a Senate proposal allowing North Carolina’s four largest counties to create compensation programs for those sterilized by orders of local governments.

Between 1929 and 1974, about 7,600 people deemed “feeble-minded” or otherwise undesirable were sterilized in North Carolina. Some were children considered promiscuous or troublemakers, while others were adults who were determined to be incompetent. Most were forced or coerced into the procedures.

A 2013 law set up a compensation program if the state Eugenics Board ordered the procedure.

Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake, said this year’s proposal is aimed at people who slipped through the “legal cracks” because their sterilizations were ordered by county officials rather than the state.

“We’re not talking about a lot of people. We’re talking about a very few that need justice,” he said.

Stam estimated the bill would apply to a few dozen people in Mecklenburg, Wake, Guilford and Forsyth counties where the majority of people sterilized by county workers lived.

The bill doesn’t set aside money for the compensation and would allow, but not require, counties with populations of more than 350,000 to set up the programs from their own general funds.

Like the 2013 law, it applies only to people alive at the time a claim is made and not to estates of victims who have died. Claims must be made by Dec. 31, 2019.

The state apologized for the sterilizations in 2002, but it took another decade for lawmakers to set up the financial compensation program. North Carolina was the first state to pay compensation to victims of a government-run sterilization program.

The bill now returns to the Senate for consideration.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide