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Amnesty International criticizes teen's life term

Published Sep. 9, 2005

Amnesty International, for the second time in a week, is criticizing a life prison sentence without parole given to a Florida teenager.

John Silva, 15, was sentenced Thursday to life for the May 26 strangulation murder of 12-year-old playmate Jerry Lee Alley in their rural neighborhood north of Interlachen.

"We're opposed to any child being sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole," said Eliane Drakopoulos, a spokeswoman for Amnesty International in Washington. She said "Florida seems to be leading the way" in "a growing trend of sentencing children to life imprisonment without parole."

"International law exists on this issue precisely to protect children from their own governments, when they attempt to steal away their childhood," she said.

Last week Lionel Tate, 14, was sentenced in Fort Lauderdale to life in prison without parole for beating to death 6-year-old Tiffany Eunick, a family friend his mother was babysitting in their home. Amnesty International criticized that sentence too.

_ Staff and wire reports