Key facts:

• North Carolina forcibly sterilized approximately 7,600 individuals in the 20th Century as part of its eugenics program.

• Many eugenics victims are still alive in North Carolina. Recent state estimates have ranged from 2,944 living victims to a total of about 1,500–2,000 individuals.

• Victims should be compensated (the harm imposed on them is clear), but there is no quicker way to undermine the idea of compensating the victims than attempting to compensate descendants of the victims (where the harm is speculative at best).

• There are five ways that North Carolina should compensate the victims:

  1. Pay each living victim $20,000 from the General Fund. The same amount was provided to the living victims of the Japanese internment camps.
  2. Offer a $3 checkbox on state tax returns. It would be similar to the state’s taxpayer-supported campaign-finance program for appellate court judges.
  3. Use the $7 million in the Judicial Campaign Finance Fund. The legislature should end the judicial taxpayer campaign finance system in light of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion that held that the matching-funds provision central to such systems is unconstitutional.
  4. Excuse victims from paying the state income tax. Offer victims a refundable tax credit of about $1,000 (the average amount of annual personal income tax paid).
  5. Offer eugenics license plates. They would generate revenue for the victims as well as educate the public.

• These recommendations would provide victims more than $20,000 each and would trigger compensation immediately, before it is too late for many of the victims.


Spotlight 417 Compensating NC’s Eugenics Victims: Five Ways North Carolina Can Help Right the Wrong