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Florida: Your Messages are Heard - 16-year-old Lionel Tate is Expected to be Freed

When he is released he will then be under house arrest for one year and probation for a further ten tears. He will also have to do 1,000 hours of community service and will receive psychological counselling.

Lionel Tate's lawyer has expressed his thanks for the 3,000 cards and letters sent to Lionel from Children's rights and others which themselves generated media attention in Florida.

Lionel Tate's lawyer said:

'Thanks again. Your entire organisation is to be commended for the help and assistance. Amnesty International 'kept the spotlight' on this case and assisted us in favourably resolving this matter.

'Lionel shall be out of jail before his 17th birthday. Your support helped make the difference.'

In 2001 Lionel Tate was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for a crime committed when he was 12 years old. He had been convicted as an adult of the first- degree murder of six-year-old Tiffany Eunick.

While remaining fully mindful of the tragedy that befell Tiffany Eunick and her family, Amnesty International has campaigned on Lionel Tate's behalf since before his sentencing.

According to Amnesty International's research many people in the United States, possibly hundreds, are serving life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for crimes committed when they were younger then 18. Amnesty International knows of no other who was as young as Lionel Tate at the time of the offence. Amnesty International opposes capital punishment or life imprisonment without possibility of release, especially when they are imposed on juvenile offenders.

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