by Lisa Sorg
People who believe they—or someone they know—were involuntarily sterilized as part of the state's eugenics board can again request that their cases be reviewed.
The N.C. Justice For Sterilization Victims Foundation, which verifies the cases, temporarily suspended accepting requests on June 20, after the N.C. Senate eliminated its operational funding—and compensation for the victims—in the state budget. At that time, the foundation was processing 140 requests; it has received a additional inquiries since.
The foundation is again accepting inquiries, and to keep it open, the N.C. Department of Administration has trimmed funding from other agency services.
Executive Director Charmaine Fuller Cooper is now the only staff member.
Original legislation, which was supported by Gov. Bev Perdue, provided a lump sum of $50,000 to each verified living victim of the eugenics program. Her budget for compensation and operational costs totaled $10 million.
Nearly 7,600 people were sterilized between 1929 and 1974; an estimated 1,350 to 1,800 victims are still alive. So far, the foundation has verified 161 eugenics victims in 57 counties; 146 are still living.
For information about filing a victim verification request, contact the foundation toll-free at 877-550-6013 or 919-807-4270. Or go to www.sterilizationvictims.nc.gov.