An organization representing victims of North Carolina’s 45-year policy of involuntary sterilizations said Thursday it has located 186 people who underwent the procedure -- about 50 more than the last estimate.
The N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation says 168 of those 186 are alive.
Gov. Bev Perdue used the announcement to push again for North Carolina to compensate victims of sterilization, after the state Senate derailed her effort earlier this year.
The N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation says it has matched 24 victims in Lenoir County with records from the old N.C. Eugenics Board. That is the highest total of any county. The Caswell Center, a facility for people with mental disabilities, is in Lenoir County.
The Eugenics Board Program called for involuntary sterilizations of people with mental disabilities, but a state law adopted in 1929 allowed the procedure to be used by counties for welfare clients. Records show about 7,600 sterilizations were carried out until the practice ended in 1974.
Most of those happened between July 1946 and June 1968, according to state officials.
Records show the largest number of sterilizations during that time, 485, happened to Mecklenburg County residents. The sterilization victims group says only 15 victims have been identified in Mecklenburg, however. That is the second-highest total in the state.
Perdue’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2012-13 called for providing $50,000 compensation to each living sterilization victim, as well as establishing a permanent exhibit about the Eugenics program at the N.C. Museum of History.
Her proposal passed the state House, gaining the support of Democrats and some Republicans, including House Speaker Thom Tillis of Mecklenburg County. But it did not get through the Senate, with opponents saying the state could not afford the expenditure during a tight budget year. Some opponents also said it was unfair for current North Carolina residents to pay for a past wrong.
“We came so close to achieving compensation for those who were victimized by the state, before the legislature refused to approve my budget recommendation,” Perdue said. “We cannot stand idle on the sidelines, while these aging citizens die without due compensation from what the state did to them.”
While procedures were performed in all 100 counties, the victims foundation has not verified any victims in 43 counties -- including Alexander, Anson, Avery, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Richmond, Rutherford, Stanly, Union and Watauga.
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