RICHMOND (WRIC) - The sun is shining in Richmond and just like the icicles that have melted away, there appears to be a thawing towards providing compensation to victims of Virginia's now discredited eugenics program.
More than 7,000 Virginians were deemed unfit to breed and forcibly sterilized at state hospitals during the last century. The survivors - so far only 10 have been identified - have been calling on state lawmakers to offer up more than words of apology & make reparations for stealing away their ability to have children and grandchildren.
"I don't have nobody to take care of me I am all by myself," says victim Lewis Reynolds.
Lawmakers have repeatedly balked.
This was the scene on February 5:
"We're going to take a look at it and see what we can do," says Del. Riley Ingram. "I can't promise you action will be taken."
Despite their unwillingness to make a promise, members of the House appropriations sub-committee did make an effort.
In a budget amendment issued this week, they recommend setting aside $500,000 to compensate "some of our most vulnerable citizens who were subjected to forced sterilization."
But here's the catch - the fund would only provide $25,000 per victim - half of what those sterilized in North Carolina were awarded just last year and the money wouldn't be made available until next year.
Mark Bold, the director of the Christian Law Institute and an advocate for the sterilization victims is criticizing the House proposal. In an email he writes "to suggest that victims should receive half the amount to that of North Carolina's victims is a disgrace. Sterilization victims here are of no less value."
Later this week, Delegates Marshall and Hope, the co-patrons of the Justice for Victims of Sterilization Act, are expected to ask the full house to increase the funding to $50,000 per victim and make it available this year.
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