Raleigh, NC-- State officials are still working to set up a special foundation which could eventually be used to pay reparations to North Carolinians who were sterilized by a state program.
Lawmakers set aside $250,000 in this year's budget to set up the foundation. But the Winston-Salem Journal reports little of the money has been spent six months into the budget year.
"There's not an office. There's not a hiring. It's all still in progress," said Jill Lucas, a spokeswoman for the North Carolina Department of Administration, where the foundation will be housed.
North Carolina sterilized more than 7,600 people under its so-called eugenics program between 1933 and 1973. The program was intended to keep people considered mentally disabled or otherwise genetically inferior from having children. The program targeted the poor and people living in prisons and state institutions. While officials obtained written consent from patients or their guardians, many didn't know what they were signing and were essentially coerced, state historians said.
It will take time to get the foundation up and running, said Lucas, whose department is currently writing a job description for the person who will set up the organization. "They're not going to just put up a sign and open the door without knowing exactly how things are going to operate," she said.
The state has estimated about 2,800 victims of the program are still alive, and there are several different proposals about how to compensate them. Rep. Larry Womble, D-Forsyth, suggests giving each victim $20,000, which could cost North Carolina more than $55 million.