California Seeks Sterilization Victims To Pay Reparations: California’s government sterilized 600 persons who are still alive, either against their consent or without their knowledge, and is now searching for them to find them and pay them at least $15,000 each in restitution.
However, out of 310 petitions, the state has only authorized payouts for 51 individuals after a year of searching. The $4.5 million initiative will end in a year, and there is still plenty of time to look, but the obstacles are still great.
State officials claim that it is challenging to verify the applications since many records have been lost or destroyed. They have rejected 103 applicants, closed three incomplete applications, and processed 153 more.
People the government sterilized during the so-called eugenics movement, which peaked in the 1930s, and a lesser group who were harmed while in state prisons approximately ten years ago are both eligible for the money.
Lynda Gledhill, executive officer of the California Victims’ Compensation Board, which manages the program, said, “We try to get all the information we can, but sometimes we simply have to hope that somebody might locate more comprehensive information on their own.” “We’re just occasionally unable to confirm what occurred,”
California joined North Carolina and Virginia as the third state to approve a compensation program for forced sterilizations in 2021. The first state to do so was California, which included more recent victims from its prison system.
The eugenics movement aimed to stop some people with physical or mental impairments from becoming parents. Beginning in 1909, California’s most extensive forced sterilization program sterilized nearly 20,000 people. It was so well known that it eventually served as an example of Nazi Germany’s policies. The state’s eugenics law was not overturned until 1979.
Only three of the 45 individuals who have received approval for reparations thus far were sterilised during the eugenics era. State officials have delivered posters and fact sheets to 1,000 skilled nursing facilities and 500 libraries throughout the state to reach more survivors in their 80s, 90s, and beyond.
Additionally, the state hired Fresno-based JP Marketing under a $280,000 contract in October to start a social media campaign until the end of 2023. The state will start funding TV and radio advertisements in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento this month, and they will run through the end of October next year.
It is hoped that friends and family of the victims will see the advertisements and assist their loved one in applying for the program. Payments are only available to victims. However, if a victim passes away after being approved but before getting the full compensation, they may name a beneficiary, such as a family member, to receive the funds.
We take that mission to find these people very seriously, Gledhill added. There is nothing we can do to undo what happened to them.
Sterilization occurred in California jails on the second group of claimants for damages. According to a governmental audit, 144 women were sterilized between 2005 and 2013 without objective evidence that they had received counseling or other options.
In response, state legislators passed a rule in 2014 that forbade other medically required procedures in prison but allowed for sterilizations for pregnancy control.
Due to the recent nature of those victims’ operations, it has been considerably simpler to locate data proving their identities. State officials have posted flyers in state jails advertising the initiative and sent letters to prisoners who were being sterilized, urging them to apply.
The program’s proponent, Democratic Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo of California, said she would seek legislators to extend the application deadline past 2023. In addition to expanding the program to cover victims who underwent sterilization at county-funded facilities, she wants to offer victims additional time to submit their applications.
After more than 200 women underwent sterilization at the Los Angeles-USC Medical Center between 1968 and 1974, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors issued an apology in 2018.
“I’m not thrilled with the numbers we are seeing so far, but I believe that as we exit out of COVID and we start working at our total capacity — meaning that we can do community meetings and in-person meetings and more direct outreach other than behind a computer and through Zoom — things will change, “She spoke.
The search for sterilized prisoners is still tricky, according to Gledhill. Given what occurred to them, the public might not have a lot of faith in the administration.”
Moonlight Pulido, who was incarcerated for life for premeditated attempted murder, is one of those individuals. Pulido claimed a doctor advised him to remove two “growths” that might be cancerous while she was incarcerated in 2005. She had surgery after completing a form. Later, I had a strange feeling.
She was sweating nonstop and didn’t feel like herself. She inquired, and the nurse responded that she had undergone a total hysterectomy, an operation that involves the removal of the uterus, the cervix, and occasionally other reproductive organs.
Pulido was incredulous. She was serving a life sentence at the time, was already a mother of two, and was 41 years old. She said, however, that the doctor had taken away her right to begin a new family, which had a significant impact on her.
“I’m Native American, and we are connected to Mother Earth as women. He stole that blessing from me since we are the only ones who can give life and are the only ones who can provide life,” she said. “I didn’t feel like a woman,”
Pulido received a parole release in January 2022. She petitioned for restitution through the Coalition for Women Prisoners advocacy group and was approved for a $15,000 payout.
“I sat there and stared at it while sobbing. I cried because I’ve never had that much money in my life,” she stated.
Pulido might be paid extra. The state has set aside $4.5 million for restitution, and any remaining funds after the program’s conclusion would be equally shared among authorized victims.
Pulido claimed she used some of the cash someone provided her when she was released to fix an automobile. She is attempting to save the others. Pulido claimed that just before being freed from prison, DeAnna Henderson—who had gone by that name for most of her life—changed her name after getting an idea while staring out of her cell window at the moon.
“I became tired of lugging all that around,” she added. “DeAnna was a hurt little girl who carried a lot of hurt baggage.” “I’ve lived in the dark for so long that I want to contribute to the light associated with my name.”