North Carolina Panel: Sterilization Victims Should Get $50K

If the legislature approves the panel's recommendation it will mark the first time a state compensates victims of a once-common public health practice called eugenics.

By Jorge Rivas Jan 10, 2012

People sterilized against their will under a discredited North Carolina state program should each be paid $50,000, a task force voted Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. This is the first time a state has moved to compensate victims of eugenics.

The governor-appointed panel recommended that the money go to verified, living victims and the legislature still has to approve the payments.

Between 1929 and 1974, North Carolina sterilized more than 7,600 individuals in the name of "improving" the state’s "human stock." By the time the program ended, the majority of those who were sterilized fit a similar profile: they were young, black, poor women.

"I just want it to be over," 57-year-old Elaine Riddick, told the AP. She was sterilized when she was 14 after she gave birth to a son who was the product of rape. "You can’t change anything. You just let go and let God."

Riddick, who’s seen in the video above, said she was surprised that the task force recommended $50,000 instead of $20,000. (Earlier reports announced the victims would get anywhere between $20,000 and $50,000.)

Some say the big victory here is that the state acknowledged they were wrong.

"It’s not really about the money," said Melissa Hyatt, whose stepfather was sterilized. "It’s about the suffering and the pain."