WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Victims of involuntary sterilization in North Carolina may finally be compensated for what they went through.
Earlier today a task force voted to pay each sterilization victim $50,000. The legislature must still approve that money, but this is the first time a state has approved paying victims of eugenics.
“When we look at it in hindsight it’s outrageous, it’s horrible,” Wilmington author Anne Russell said. “I wouldn’t want it done to me.”
Russell, a retied professor, who wrote a book about the state’s forced sterilization program, isn’t the only one who felt that way. A state task force recommended payouts to every living victim of the program that happened between 1929 and 1974
“About 7,600 men, women and children, in some cases, were not fit to reproduce and ordered that they be sterilized,” task force chair Laura Gerald said.
While writing her book, Russell became close with one Wilmington victim’s family.
“There is no sum of money that is really adequate to pay back for doing this, but you have to get real about what can be done at this time,” she said.
For many, the money comes a little too late. Out of thousands, the state has verified only about 70 living victims.
Some families of deceased victims were upset that compensation was not discussed for them.
Russell says Tuesday’s decision is at least some consolation for those who have come forward.
“I admire their courage and applaud the State of North Carolina for its apology,” she said. “I am glad something is finally being done and it should be.”
We spoke with David Pridgen, the nephew of a sterilization victim from Wilmington. He did not wish to comment on the compensation, but says his family is finally at peace for what happened.