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.
From 1929 to 1974, the state sterilized about 7,600 people, many against their will.
Last year North Carolina set aside $10 million to be divided equally among victims of the N.C. Eugenics Board program. Victims had until June 30 to submit a claim form.
The first eugenics compensation payments are to be sent out by Oct. 31, and a second payment will be sent to victims next year.
So far about 213 victims have qualified for compensation, according to the Office of Justice for Sterilization Victims.
The foundation preceding that office had identified 176 living victims as of early 2013, but the state received 786 claim forms.
Chris Mears, a spokesman for the Office of Justice for Sterilization Victims, said all 786 claims have been forwarded to the N.C. Industrial Commission for ruling.
The Industrial Commission had issued initial determination orders on 731 of the 786 claims as of Tuesday. A multi-level appeals process is available to people whose claims are initially denied.
Riddick said she was told by the state that the first payment would be $20,000, but state officials have not confirmed an amount.
“The amount of the first payment will not be determined until the remainder of the claims receive their initial determinations later this month,” Graham Wilson, a spokesman for the N.C. Department of Commerce, wrote in an email on Wednesday.
“The claimants who have been ruled qualified will receive follow up phone calls to verify their information such as address, additional phone information and guardian information if applicable,” Wilson wrote. “They are also being informed that the payment will come in the form of two checks (October 2014 and June 2015).”
Riddick said it is not even about the amount anymore. It is about the state “acknowledging the wrongs that they had done.”
She said now other states are looking into their eugenics programs also.
“It’s just something that hopefully the rest of the states will follow,” Riddick said.
Riddick now lives in Atlanta and said she plans to use the money for programs to help kids and young women.
“The money, it will be used wisely,” Riddick said.
Victims were initially scheduled to be paid on June 30, 2015, but legislators changed the schedule with a provision in the latest budget.
The initial payment to verified victims will be calculated by adding the number of qualified recipients and the number of pending claims, then dividing that number into $10 million. Claimants approved after that date will receive their first payment within 60 days.
Once the appeals have been exhausted, a second payment will be sent out dividing up the remaining funds.
Wilson said the appeals process is ongoing.
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