Guantanamo Bay prisoners’ art show stirs questions of ownership

Guantanamo Bay prisoners’ art show stirs questions of ownership

53% of Americans think government shouldn't own prisoners' art

“Ode to the Sea,” is a recent art exhibit at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, featuring 36 paintings, drawings and sculptures created by eight men who were prisoners at the Guantánamo Bay detention center in Cuba.

The Pentagon says that these artworks are not owned by the prisoners themselves. As such, the artworks will not be processed for release with the prisoners if and when they are released from detention, and would instead be property of the state.

YouGov Omnibus asked American respondents, who do you think should own art produced by a prisoner? Many were unsure where they stand on the issue, with 28% of respondents choosing “don’t know”. Most, however, disagreed with the Pentagon’s current stance, as 53% said that the artworks should belong to the prisoner. Nearly a fifth of respondents said the government should own the artwork created by a prisoner while incarcerated.

Age was a major factor in differentiating the opinions of respondents. Respondents aged 18 to 24 were the largest group (61%) to favor prisoners owning the rights to their artwork. This percentage decreased as age increased, with fewer than half (48%) of respondents over the age of 55+ believing prisoners should own the rights to their work (48%).