California seeks compensation for sterilization victims. WGN Radio 720

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA (AP) — About 600 people alive today are unable to have children because the California government has sterilized them against their will or without their knowledge. with compensation.

But after a year-long search, the state had approved payments for only 51 of 310 applications. With a year to go before the $4.5 million program ends, the challenge remains serious. State officials have denied her 103 applications, closed three incomplete applications, and are processing her other 153 applications.

People who were sterilized by the government during the so-called eugenics movement, which peaked in the 1930s, and a small number of people who were victims while incarcerated in state prisons about a decade ago, made this money. are eligible to receive

“We’re trying to find as much information as we can, but someone will find more detailed information on their own,” said Linda Gredhill, executive director of the California Victims Compensation Board, which oversees the program. “We may not be able to confirm what happened.”

In 2021, California will become the third state to approve a compensation program for forced sterilization, after North Carolina and Virginia. But California was the first state to also include recent victims from the state’s prison system.

The eugenics movement aimed to prevent some people with mental illness or physical disabilities from having children. California had the nation’s largest mandatory sterilization program since 1909, with approximately 20,000 people. This was very well known and later influenced the Nazis’ practice in Germany. The state did not repeal his eugenics laws until 1979.

Of the 45 people who have been awarded compensation so far, only three were sterilized during the eugenics era. With victims in her 80s, 90s, and beyond surviving from that time, state officials sent posters and fact sheets to her 1,000 specialized nursing homes and 500 libraries across the state, and many more. hope to reach the victims of

The state also signed a $280,000 contract with Fresno-based JP Marketing in October to launch a social media campaign that will run until the end of 2023. The biggest push comes this month when states pay for TV and radio advertising. Held in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento, next year he will run until October.

We hope that the victim’s friends and relatives will see the ad and help their loved ones sign up for the program. Only victims are eligible for payment. However, if the victim dies after being approved but before receiving the full amount, the victim can designate beneficiaries such as her family to receive the money.

“We take our mission to find these people very seriously,” Gledhill said. “Nothing we can do can make up for what happened to them.”

A second group eligible for compensation was sterilized in California prisons. A state audit found little to no evidence that between 2005 and her 2013, her 144 women were sterilized and received counseling or offered alternative treatments. State legislators responded in 2014 by passing a law banning contraceptive sterilization in prisons while allowing other medically necessary procedures.

Since their procedure was recent, it has become much easier to find records identifying those victims. They posted advertising flyers in state prisons, urging them to apply.

Wendy Carrillo, a Democrat in the California legislature who called for approval of the program, said she would ask lawmakers to extend the application deadline beyond 2023. Victims who were sterilized at county-funded hospitals. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors issued an apology in 2018 after more than 200 of her women were sterilized at Los Angeles-USC Medical Center between 1968 and her 1974.

“While I am not thrilled with the numbers we have seen so far, I believe we will be able to come out of COVID and reach our full potential, which means we can have community meetings and face-to-face conferences. Things will change, with meetings and more direct outreach outside of behind a computer or Zoom,” she said.

Finding sterilized inmates remains difficult, Mr Gledhill said. “Given what happened to them, they may not have much faith in the government.”

One of those people is Moonlight Pulido, who was serving a life sentence for an earlier attempted murder. While in prison in 2005, Pulido was told by his doctor that he might have cancer and that he needed to have two “tumors” removed. She signed the form and underwent surgery. Later, I felt that something was wrong. She was sweating all the time and she was not like herself. She asked her nurse, who said she had had a total hysterectomy, an operation to remove the uterus and cervix, and sometimes other parts of the reproductive system.

Preed was shocked. She was 41 at the time, she already had a child, and she was serving a life sentence. But she said her doctor gave her the right to create her own separate family — it affected her deeply.

“I am Native American and we are rooted in Mother Earth as women. I stole that blessing,” she said. “I felt like I was inferior to women.”

Pulido was released on parole in January 2022. Working with her advocacy group Coalition for Women Prisoners, she applied for her compensation and was approved for payment of $15,000.

“I sat there watching it and cried. I cried because I had never had so much money in my life,” she said.

Pulido was able to get more money. The state has $4.5 million in compensation, and what remains after the program ends will be divided equally among approved victims.

Pulido said he spent some of his money fixing a car someone gave him when he was released. She’s trying to save her rest. Pulido, known as Deanna Henderson for most of her life, changed her name shortly before she was released from prison, she said. She got her inspiration from looking at the moon outside her cell window.

“Diana was a very scarred little girl, and she carried so many damaged packages that she was tired of carrying it around,” she said. So I want to be part of the light that will be part of my name. California seeks compensation for sterilization victims. WGN Radio 720

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