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Tommy Tucker 2The last time any significant number of North Carolinians were aware of state Senator Tommy Tucker was probably a couple of years ago when the Waxhaw Republican made some incredibly arrogant statements to people trying to inform lawmakers of the truth about some controversial issues.

“I am the senator. You are the citizen. You need to sit down,” was Tucker’s now infamous quote.

Now, Tucker is back in the news making another clueless and borderline offensive remark — this one regarding the victims of the state’s horrific forced sterilization program of the 20th Century and the new and ridiculously inadequate compensation program for victims.

As the Charlotte Observer’s Jim Morrill reported this morning, advocates for eugenics victims are pointing out the existence of a truck-sized loophole in the compensation law. Under the law, hundreds, if not thousands, of people are being denied compensation because their sterilizations took place in county facilities rather than state facilities.

This is, by any fair assessment, outrageous. To think that victims will have to go to the expense and trouble of taking up their compensation claims against individual  counties after decades of effort to get a state compensation law through is simply astounding. Unfortunately, good ol’ Senator Tucker doesn’t see it that way. This is from the Observer article:

“Sen. Tommy Tucker, a Union County Republican who co-chairs the Senate’s appropriations committee on Health and Human Services, said ‘the state’s done its part.’

‘They should go to the county where they were sterilized, not the state,’ he said of those victims. ‘The state’s done its part to right the wrongs that we did, but the county should be responsible for what it did.’

Uh, pardon us Senator, but the last time we checked, the counties of North Carolina were creatures of the state. Moreover, forced sterilization was, by any fair assessment, a monstrous state-supported initiative with disastrous statewide results. The victims have already been denied justice for far too long and the compensation packages available are already inadequate. That the state of North Carolina would attempt play a game of bait and switch with such an abused group of human beings is almost beyond comprehension.

Please do the right thing, Senator. Help get all of these injured people the money they deserve ASAP and then just sit down and be quiet.

Commentary

The Winston-Salem Journal reports that the state has mailed out about 200 checks to commence the inadequate and uninspired compensation plan for victims of the state’s 45-year-long eugenics program.

Elaine Riddick got a call this week that had been more than 40 years in the making.

Riddick, a victim of North Carolina’s eugenics program, said she received word from the state that they would send her a eugenics compensation payment at the end of the month.

“I have been fighting this for over 40 years,” said Riddick, who is now 60 years old.

As you will recall the program forcibly sterilized around 7,600 people from 1929 to 1974. Sadly, not only is the compensation plan too little and too late for most of those victimized, but even now, state officials continue to respond to requests for compensation in a narrow and tightfisted way.

Let’s hope that sometime soon, state leaders come to their senses and move to expand outreach, funding, eligibility and assistance for claimants  for the program as advocates like the good folks at the state NAACP have been demanding for months.

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Eva Justin from the Racial Hygiene and Demographic Biology Research Unit measures the skull of a Romani woman.

You would think that living in the twenty-first century, we would have progressed beyond the barbarity of eugenics programs in the U.S. in previous centuries. That assumption would be false.

Eugenics–the systematic implementation of social Darwinian procedures such as sterilization and segregation in order to “purify” the human gene pool–complemented the ideology behind the Nazi Holocaust. Meanwhile in the U.S., medical professionals were sterilizing those deemed genetically “inferior” while legislators and police were enforcing racial segregation. We have now moved forward to a point in which science, cultural consciousness, and law are in agreement that eugenics is destructive and ethically reprehensible.

Nevertheless, a recent investigation into California prisons reveals that some Americans remain behind the times. It has been confirmed that 39 female inmates were illegally sterilized over the last eight years at Folsom Women’s Facility, Central California Women’s Facility, Valley State Prison for Women, and the California Institution for Women. Such women were not given proper consent. The procedure, in effect, was coerced on them. Consequently, the health committee at the California legislature has moved to pass a bill banning all future sterilizations of inmates unless required in a medical emergency.

North Carolina isn’t faring much better. With a sketchy past regarding eugenics programs, the state has yet to compensate its past victims of sterilization despite promises. This past Monday was the deadline for victims to file claims and apply for compensation. The NAACP believes that the state is still doing an insufficient job, requesting that the deadline be extended as only 630 out of 1,800 victims who may still be alive have submitted proper claims and paperwork to the state Office of Justice for Sterilization Victims. Let’s hope this request meets with a favorable response and that our nation can move further forward and “not one step back” as the Moral Monday mantra states. Because in California and North Carolina, we remain more than one step back.

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EugenicsAs Chris Fitzsimon made clear in this morning’s “Monday Numbers,” there is simply no good reason for the state of North Carolina to shut off applications for compensation to surviving eugenics victims. Having made people wait decades, what is the point of limiting the possibility for recovery for people — especially since so many of those injured are likely to lack easy access to legal assistance they need?

The North Carolina NAACP issued a statement early this afternoon making just such an argument. Click here to view it.

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From the good people at the UNC Law School Center for Civil Rights — pass it along:

If you or a family member was a victim on North Carolina’s forced sterilization program, you may be eligible for compensation from the state. The deadline for filing a claim for compensation under the Eugenics and Asexualization and Sterilization Compensation Program is June 30, 2014. The UNC Center for Civil Rights, along with other volunteer lawyers, are providing free assistance to those filing claims. We encourage victims and their families to call us with questions about eligibility and how to fill out the claims form. We also encourage victims and their families to attend one of the free clinics we are conducting with help from the NAACP, local churches and community leaders, during which we will provide additional information and assist in filing claims.

  • Thursday, May 22, 10am-1pm at the Lucille W. Gorham Intergenerational Community Center, corner of 5th and Tyson St., Greenville, NC
  • Thursday, May 29, 10am-1pm at the Martin Street Baptist Church, 1001 East Martin St. Raleigh, NC

Clinics will also occur in Mecklenburg and Hertford Counties on June 5 and June 12, times and locations to be publicized soon. Below are answers to frequently asked questions we have received about the process:

Q: Where can I get the claims form?
A: You can download the form at http://www.sterilizationvictims.nc.gov/, or call the Office of Justice at 1-877-550-6013 or 919-807-4270.

Q: Who is eligible for compensation?
A: Living victims of the program are eligible, as well as the heirs of deceased victims so long as the victim was alive on June 30, 2013. Read More