RALEIGH- The North Carolina legislature passed a $20.2 billion budget last week, but couldn’t find enough money to compensate victims of a 1929 to 1984 forced sterilization program in North Carolina.
North Carolina sterilized more than 7,600 people aiming at creating a better society by weeding out people who were deemed “feeble-minded,” many of them poor women.
The state House had agreed to pay $50,000 to victims who were alive as of March 1, 2010 but the legislation failed in the Senate. Specific senators have given some pretty eye opening quotes as reasons why the legislation failed.
State Sen. Don East said, “I’m sorry it happened. I don think money fixes it.”
Sen. Jerry Tillman said, “A great wrong was done, but we didn’t do it.”
But perhaps the most surprising quote came from State Sen. Lynn Jenkins Friday.
“The victims were suppose to receive $50,000 but the truth is they saved a lot more by not having kids,” said Jenkins.
“Kids cost a lot of money. You have to feed them, clothe them, take them to soccer practice, etc. The state of North Carolina actually did them a favor.”
As expected Jenkins comments received a lot of backlash over the weekend.
“How could someone say something like that?” said Audrey Morris, a 54-year-old Durham resident.
“It’s one thing if it was a choice to not have kids but the state made that choice for the victims. It’s not right.”
Jenkins is the first senator to defend the program. Senators also opposed the compensation to victims because they felt the compensation would open the door for other groups to ask for compensation from the state of North Carolina.
“So let me get this straight. The state is worried if one group, who were wronged gets justice other groups who were also wronged might want justice?” said Morris.
“I’m sure this was the same debate when they started prosecuting rape cases. ‘Oh no don’t prosecute rape cases because that will lead to other rape victims wanting to come forward for justice.’ It’s disgusting frankly.”
Other senators opposed the compensation because they felt the current generation shouldn’t have to compensate for a previous generation’s sins. But no senator has come forward to support Sen. Jenkins statements.
However one top commenter on the Citizen-Times.com weighed in on the benefits of the sterilization program.
Yes Mike it does sound awful.