California has allocated $7.5 million for reparations to survivors who were subjected to state-sponsored sterilization or involuntary sterilization, reported the California Coalition for Women Prisoners.
“We hope this victory paves the way for other BI-POC communities to achieve additional forms of reparations in response to centuries of state-sanctioned violence and abuse,” said Aminah El-ster, the coalition’s campaign and policy coordinator.
Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, D-Los Angeles, was a key advocate in getting the allocation included in the state budget, the report said.
California has become the third state behind North Carolina and Virginia to provide monetary compensation to survivors who were sterilized under state eugenics laws.
The California Victims Compensation Board has the responsibility to create an outreach program to notify incarcerated women and trans people who have been sterilized.
Each survivor will receive approximately $25,000.
“No amount of monetary compensation will ever remedy the wrongs committed but this bill is a step in the right direction in the state taking responsibility to remedy the violence inflicted on these survivors,” said Laura Jimenez, executive director of California Latinas for Reproductive Justice.
California repealed its eugenics laws in 1979; however, the state continued to practice coerced and forced sterilization well into 2010, the coalition reported.
California began its eugenics practices in 1909; to date, there have been approximately 20,000 people unknowing-ly sterilized, placing the state third highest in a nationwide report.
The report said the eugenics movement was fueled by beliefs that the burgeoning field of genetics could socially engineer away America’s “ills,” including poverty, crime and “feeble-mindedness.”
Thirty-two other states practiced sterilization, the coalition said.
The documentary film “Belly of the Beast” by Erika Cohn exposed state-sanctioned sterilization in California. Kelli Dillon was one of the main characters.
Dillon was sterilized while imprisoned at Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla. She needed surgery to treat an ovarian cyst. Unknown to her, she was given a hysterectomy at age 24.
She founded Back to the Basics, a community empowerment organization that offers education, outreach and service provider programs.