People who were sterilized in North Carolina’s eugenics program decades ago will now receive financial compensation from the state, after the legislature approved a $10 million fund for victims last week.
The state has identified about 180 living people who were sterilized so far, but many of the 7,600 sterilization victims have died already or have changed their names and moved, according to Fox News.
North Carolina’s eugenics program — which was prevalent from 1929 to 1974 — targeted people who were considered mentally or socially inferior, according to CNN. Thirty-three states had similar sterilization programs at the time.
The state sterilized young and old victims without their consent in the majority of cases.
Victims will start to receive compensation from the $10 million state fund in June 2015, after the state has searched for more victims to compensate and has verified claims. The fund will be distributed equally in amounts determined by the number of victims identified.
The legislature has debated whether or not to give the $10 million to victims for about ten years. north Carolina will be the first state to financially compensate people it sterilized.
"It's been a long hard fight," said state Rep. Larry Womble. "We're trying to correct a wrong."
Some victims said they think money is not enough compensation for the forced sterilizations, though it is unclear what the state could do to set things right.
"The money don't take up the place of what happened," said Willis Lynch, an 80-year-old who was sterilized when he was 14. "I'm glad they did something, though."
Lynch was one of many citizens targeted by the state and sent to schools or programs where the majority of people were forcibly sterilized.
"No amount that we can afford to pay is enough," said House Speaker Paul Stam. "But this is sufficient for the living victims to know that the state of North Carolina sincerely regrets the injustice that we've done to them."