SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Governor Gavin Newsom announced the commencement of California’s new program to pay survivors of state-sponsored sterilization today, continuing the state’s leadership in redressing historical injustices, said Governor Gavin Newsom in a press release.

Starting January 1st, survivors of the state-sponsored sterilization program can apply for compensation through California’s Forced or Involuntary Sterilization Compensation Program, which is being administered by the California Victim Compensation Board (CalVCB).

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“California is committed to confronting this dark chapter in the state’s past and addressing the impacts of this shameful history still being felt by Californians today,” said Governor Newsom. “While we can never fully make amends for what they’ve endured, the state will do all it can to ensure survivors of wrongful sterilization receive compensation.”

The state is issuing $4.5 million to be divided evenly among all eligible individuals who apply in addition to $2 million for administration and outreach for the program and $1 million to establish markers or plaques at designated sites that acknowledge these misdeeds and “wrongful sterilization of thousands of vulnerable people. The state estimates that at least 600 survivors of forced sterilization are still alive today and are eligible for compensation, said the Governor’s Office.

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For some context and history of the program, state eugenics laws that were in effect from 1909 through 1979, thousands of people who lived in California state-run hospitals and institutions were sterilized. Although these laws were appealed in 1979, it was later discovered that many of these forced sterilizations continued to occur in custody at state prisons and other correctional facilities under the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles) proposed the program in AB 1007. The budget provided legislative language establishing the forced sterilization compensation program and appropriated $7.5 million to fund the program.

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“Survivors are encouraged to visit or reach out to CalVCB at 800-777-9229 or to obtain an application. They can also send a letter to P.O. Box 591, Sacramento, CA 95812-0591. Applications will be accepted from Jan. 1, 2022 through Dec. 31, 2023. Applying is completely confidential. Compensation paid to the claimant or claimant’s trust will not impact a survivor’s Medicaid or Social Security status or benefits and will not be considered income for state tax purposes or for community property, child support, restitution or a money judgment,” said the Governor’s office.