The Times podcast: Eugenics in our own backyard

A detainee's drawing shows a woman crying alongside a question mark within a uterus
A drawing by a detainee in Georgia shows a question mark in a uterus. California didn’t ban forced sterilization in prisons until 2014.
(GLAHR/Innovation Law Lab)

For a century, California sterilized women in its prisons and hospitals, often without their consent. Government officials did it in the name of eugenics — of trying to curtail the number of working-class people and people of color. The Golden State apologized for its actions in 2003 but didn’t ban the practice until 2014. Now the state will try to address the wrong of its forced sterilization program with a historic move: It wants to pay survivors reparations.


On today’s episode, we speak with Assembly member Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles), who sponsored the legislative bill that will create California’s reparations effort. And we also talk to one of the activists who have brought this dark chapter in American history to the public.

Host: Gustavo Arellano

Guests: California Assembly member Wendy Carrillo and Ena Suseth Valladares, programs director of California Latinas for Reproductive Justice

More reading:

California poised to pay compensation to victims of forced sterilization

Editorial: Paying $25,000 to every living forced-sterilization victim is the least California can do

Forced sterilization: A stain on California

Listen to more episodes of The Times here

About The Times

“The Times” is made by columnist Gustavo Arellano, producer Shannon Lin, senior producer Denise Guerra, executive producer Abbie Fentress Swanson and editors Lauren Raab, Shani O. Hilton and Julia Turner. Our intern is Ashlea Brown. Our engineer is Mario Diaz and our theme song was composed by Andrew Eapen.