Juvenile inmates display sought-after artwork

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by Karen Grace

KENS

Posted on October 11, 2012 at 8:27 AM

Updated Thursday, Oct 11 at 12:49 PM

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- At first glance, the jaw-dropping artwork that line the halls of the Bexar County Juvenile Probation Department resembles a high-end gallery.

But how could the county afford such pricey pieces of art? As it turns out, every piece came from the talented inmates, some as young as 10 years old.

Michael Martinez, the deputy chief of institutions, said its obvious why visitors have tried to snatch up the masterpieces, some offering as much as $150 on the spot. However, they're not for sale.

At least not yet.

Martinez said selling the artwork raises a difficult question: who would reap the benefits?

Should inmates be rewarded for their work? Or should the money from the sales go toward county projects? Martinez said he is working on a plan in which everyone will benefit.

"There are kids that are 10, 11, 12 and 13 that made a bad decision," Martinez said. "Can we turn them around?"

Martinez said selling the artwork could help boost the kids' self esteem, and others agree.

"It's the kids that actually produce the work, they should get compensated for their talents," he said.

Some Bexar County residents said that if artwork could keep juveniles from returning to a career in crime, then they should be able to profit.

The justice center provides art programs through the Cyndi Taylor Krier Juvenile Correctional Treatment Center.

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