California's capital city of SACRAMENTO The state of California is trying to find 600 people who were forced to have children either against their will or without their knowledge, so they can be paid at least $15,000 each in compensation.
The state has only approved 51 people for payments out of over 300 applications. The $4.5 million program will shut down one year from now. State officials have denied 103 people, closed three incomplete applications and are processing 153 others, but they say it is difficult to verify the applications.
There are two groups of people who are eligible for the money, those who were sterilized by the government in the 1930's and those who were victims in state prisons a decade ago.
"We try to find all the information we can and sometimes we just have to hope that someone else can find more detailed information on their own." Sometimes we don't know what happened.
California became the third state to approve a program for the descendants of people who were forced to have their hair cut. California was the first state to include more recent victims.
Some people with mental illness or physical disabilities were not allowed to have children. About 20,000 people were sterilized in California in the 20th century. It was well-known that it inspired practices in Nazi Germany. Eugenics law was repealed in 1979.
Only three people were sterilized during the eugenics era. State officials have sent posters and fact sheets to 1,000 skilled nursing homes and 500 libraries in an effort to reach more survivors from that time period.
The state signed a $285,000 contract with JP Marketing in October to launch a social media campaign. The state will pay for TV and radio ads in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento through October next year.
The hope is that victims' friends and relatives will see the ads and apply for the program. Payments are only made to victims. If a victim dies after being approved, they can designate a family member to get the money.
Gledhill said that the mission was very serious. What happened to them can't be made up.
The second group of people were in prison and had their reproductive organs removed. There was little or no evidence that women were counseled or offered alternative treatments during the seven year period studied. In response, state lawmakers passed a law banning prison sterilizations for birth control purposes while still allowing other medically necessary procedures.
Their procedures have made it easier to find records that verify those victims.
The application deadline will be extended by Wendy Carrillo, a member of the California Assembly. She wants to give victims more time to apply, and she wants to expand the program to include victims who were forcibly sterifed. More than 200 women were sterilized at the Los Angeles-USC Medical Center in the 1960's and 70's.
I am not happy with the numbers that we are seeing so far, but I believe that as we exit out of COVID, we will be able to do community meetings and in-person meetings and more direct outreach other than behind us.
Gledhill said it's still difficult to find inmates who were sterilized. The population may not be very trusting of the government.
There is a person who was sentenced to life in prison for attempted murder. She said a doctor told her he needed to remove two tumors that could be cancer. She underwent surgery after signing a form. Something wasn't right later. She was sweaty and didn't feel right. A nurse told her that she had had a full hysterectomy, a procedure in which the uterus and other reproductive organs are removed.
The man was surprised. She was 41 years old at the time and already had two children. She said the doctor took her right to start a family away from her.
We are grounded to Mother Earth because we are Native Americans. She said that he stole the blessing from her because they are the only life-giving people. I felt like I wasn't as important as a woman.
In January of 2022. She was approved for a $15,000 payment for her work with the coalition for women prisoners.
I cried when I looked at it after sitting there. She said that she has never had that much money in her life.
It's possible that Pulido will get more money. After the program ends, the state has $4.5 million left and will divide it equally among approved victims.
When she got out of prison, she spent some of the money on a car. She is attempting to save the rest. When she was released from prison, she changed her name to DeAnna Henderson because she wanted to look at the moon.
She said that DeAnna was a very hurt little girl that carried a lot of hurt baggage. I want to be a part of the light that will be part of my name.