Victims of North Carolina’s state-sponsored sterilization program have until June 30, 2014 to file claims for compensation through the North Carolina Industrial Commission’s Eugenics Asexualization and Sterilization Compensation Program. In the early 20th century North Carolina and 31 other states supported eugenics, the science of improving the human population through the control of hereditary qualities. Between 1929 and 1974, the Eugenics Board of North Carolina authorized the forced sterilization of approximately 7,600 people. The victims were classified according to three categories: mental illness, epilepsy and feebleminded (which usually meant a low IQ score). The Board also considered personal factors such as sexual activitiy, whether or not they were hard to control, and whether they were poverty stricken. Most victims were female and some were as young as 10 years old.
In 2010 Governor Beverly Perdue created the N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation (http://www.sterilizationvictims.nc.gov) in an effort to find and compensate victims who were wrongly sterilized. In 2013 N.C. lawmakers appropriated $10 million for one-time payments through the North Carolina Industrial Commission’s Eugenics Compensation Program for the estimated 1,500 victims who are still alive (State Bill 402).
The Industrial Commission has provided instructions on how to file a claim for compensation (http://www.ic.nc.gov/forms/eugenicsclaimform.pdf). Eligible compensation recipients must have been alive on June 30, 2013. Those who believe they may have been sterilized under this program are encouraged to call the Victim’s Information Line at 1-877-550-6013 or 919-807-4270. The amount of compensation per individual will be determined by the number of eligible victims that come forward and file claims. Payments will not be made until 2015. Many attorneys and members of the Workers’ Compensation Section of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice have agreed to represent these victims on a non-fee basis. For a list of these attorneys call 919-533-1413. Leonard Jernigan is one of the listed attorneys.