Across Virginia, thousands of former Lynchburg Colony patients tried to conceive for decades, not knowing that the state had made it so they could not.
At the Colony, patients did some sort of day labor for which they were paid a pittance — $1 a month for chores like mowing grass or painting — and were told they couldn’t leave until they were sterilized. Sometimes, though, when it came time for the procedure, doctors told patients they were having an appendectomy or surgery to help ease “female problems.”
Mary Bishop, a Roanoke Times & World News reporter writing a book about the Virginia victims, said patients were almost always youngsters and teenagers. They ended up at the Colony when frustrated parents dumped them there because they had run away too often or had committed petty crime. Others had become pregnant out of wedlock.
Almost all were poor. Three siblings were placed in the Colony because their mother had died and their alcoholic father neglected them, Bishop said. They grew so hungry at home that they tried to eat bark off trees.
Today the Lynchburg State Colony is the Central Virginia Training Center, with gleaming floors and well-lit corridors, its 300 acres graced with brilliant pink crepe myrtle and verdant clusters of cedars, beech trees and maples.
Buckley, Stephen. 2001. “Human weeds.” St. Petersburg Times. November 11, 2001.
<http://www.sptimes.com/News/111101/Worldandnation/Human_weeds.shtml> accessed November 19, 2007.