ATLANTA — The task force assigned the difficult task of deciding how much to compensate the victims of a North Carolina sterilization program, which was intended to reduce welfare costs and cleanse the gene pool of undesirable characteristics, settled on a number on Tuesday.
Each living person sterilized as part of the state’s formal eugenics program, which lasted from 1929 to 1974, should receive $50,000, the task force said.
Certainly, many of the nearly three dozen other states that once had eugenics programs sterilized more people. In California, about 20,000 people were sterilized by the state. But the program in North Carolina, which may have included as many as 7,600 people, lasted the longest and was one of the most aggressive.
Now, North Carolina is the first to set a dollar amount for the victims.
“I think that number sounds fantastic,” said Rita Thompson Swords, 72, who grew up in a poor family of 16 children. She was sterilized at 21 during a Caesarean section to deliver her second child. “That is surely going to help a lot,” she...