Gov. Perdue wants compensation for eugenics victims | News
Raleigh, NC- Announcing her intentions to veto the N.C. General Assembly's budget, Gov. Bev Perdue today called on legislators to continue working to benefit citizens of North Carolina. She repeated her support for providing compensation to surviving victims of the state's former forced sterilization initiative.
"They failed to take action on a bipartisan plan to compensate the verified living victims of the state's former Eugenics Board program – which as, you know, involuntarily sterilized North Carolinians in the 20th century," Gov. Perdue said. "It's not a lot of money but a tremendous move for the state.
"We can't change the terrible things that happened to so many of these vulnerable citizens in North Carolina. But I believe it's long past time for us to take responsibility as a people for our state's mistakes, and to show North Carolinians and the world that we do not tolerate violations of basic human rights."
Gov. Perdue's original budget designated $10.3 million to compensate verified victims and provide continued funding of the N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation. This week, she urged a compromise of $5 million. At this time, it is unclear if lawmakers intend to provide funding to the N.C. Department of Administration for continued operation of the Foundation or require DOA to find dollars from existing programs.
While more than 30 states at one time operated eugenics programs, North Carolina implemented the most aggressive program and had been poised to become the first to provide financial compensation to verified victims. Last Wednesday, the Foundation suspended intake of new victim verification. Because its original 2009 allocation of non-recurring funding will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, it has been preparing to shut down on Saturday.
The House approved legislation earlier this month that reflected Gov. Bev Perdue's call to pay $50,000 lump sum compensation to living victims, as well as funding for the Foundation's continued operation and expanded outreach.
To date, the Foundation has confirmed matches with archived eugenics records to 161 individuals in 57 counties, including 146 living victims. Foundation Executive Director Charmaine Fuller Cooper said the increase reflects discovery of cases in which multiple siblings and entire families were sterilized.
Fuller Cooper noted that time is not on the side of aging victims. An updated estimate from the N.C. State Center for Health Statistics earlier this month revised down the number of likely living victims from about 1,500 to 2,000 to about 1,350 to 1,800.