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Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

At 16 years old, sex trafficking victim Cyntoia Denise Brown was sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing a man who purchased her for sex. On Monday, at 30, she was granted clemency by the governor of Tennessee.

The big picture: The U.S. is the only nation in the world where minors can be sentenced to prison for life without parole, according to the Sentencing Project.

By the numbers: 21 states and the District of Columbia have banned the practice, and Supreme Court rulings have made it much harder for juveniles to receive life sentences, but there are still more than 2,000 people facing life in prison for a crime they committed when they were under 18.

Background: Cyntoia was convicted of robbing and murdering Johnny Mitchell Allen, who had solicited her for sex, according to CNN. While prosecutors claimed she had killed the man in order to rob him, Cyntoia said that she was afraid for her life and took the money to give to her pimp out of fear he would be angry if she did not return with money.

  • Since her conviction, juvenile sentencing laws in Tennessee have changed, according to CNN. And a documentary inspired by Cyntoia's trial was influential in changing the state's laws dealing with victims of sex trafficking.
  • "Our courts today would view her as a child sex slave," WZTV anchor Stacy Case said. "She would be viewed as a victim."
  • Over the past year or so, several big-name celebrities, including Amy Schumer, Kim Kardashian West, Ashley Judd and Rihanna have brought attention to Cyntoia's story and spoken in her defense.

Be smart: The majority of kids sentenced to life without parole have difficult, traumatic and complicated histories.

  • 79% of them experienced regular violence in their homes, according to the Sentencing Project.
  • Fewer than half were attending school when they committed the crime.
  • 32% grew up in public housing, and 40% had been enrolled in special education classes.
  • Almost half had been physically abused.
  • 80% of the girls serving life sentences said they had been physically abused in their past, and 77% had histories of sexual abuse.

Go deeper: How the U.S. imprisons the poor

Go deeper

Trump can't quit mainstream media

Bob Woodward and Robert Costa are interviewed by Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" in September. Photo: William B. Plowman/NBC via Getty Images

Bob Woodward and Robert Costa issued a rebuttal on Friday to a statement by former President Donald Trump that misrepresented their reporting — and once again showed the 45th president's thin skin about mainstream media.

Driving the news: "Former President Trump said ... our book, 'Peril,' implied that he was planning to go to war with China," the statement begins. "[W]e report that Chairman of Joint Chiefs Mark Milley 'believed that Trump did not want a war' before or after the 2020 election."

NY declares state of emergency amid concerns over Omicron COVID variant

Governor Kathy Hochul makes an announcement about a new plan transforming Penn Station on Nov. 3, 2021. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday declared a state of emergency amid rising COVID-19 cases and the newly-identified Omicron variant of the virus.

Driving the news: The declaration enables the state to acquire supplies to fight a potential surge in cases, increase hospital capacity and combat potential staff shortages, NBC's local affiliate reports.

4 hours ago - Health

First cases of COVID-19 Omicron variant discovered in U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Two cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant were detected in the United Kingdom overnight, the U.K. Health Security Agency announced Saturday.

Why it matters: The discovery comes as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.