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I am writing a research essay on wrongful convictions and exonerations; I later connect this to the Innocence Project and how it helps free the innocent. What is an effective hook and thesis for starting this essay? Please give me ideas on how to start.  

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Julianne Hansen, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One great hook could be to look at data in some way. For example, how many wrongful convictions have been overturned to date or since the Innocence Project started? How many years does the average person who is wrongfully convicted spend in prison? Are any races or groups of socioeconomic status more likely to be wrongfully convicted? I don't think you need to tackle all of these by any means, but without knowing exactly where your paper is headed, data like this is typically an interesting way to grab a reader's attention (because it is typically innately shocking). So you might begin by simply stating that X number of people who have received a death sentence have later been released because of a proven wrongful conviction (just using that as an example) and then bridge into the Innocence Project.

After explaining briefly what the purpose of the Innocence Project entails (you'll want to save the bulk of the explanation for your body paragraphs, of course), you'll end your introduction with a clear thesis. Again, I'm not sure which details you plan to highlight in your paper, but something like this could work:

An imperfect justice system has wrongfully convicted scores of innocent citizens, and measures such as the Innocence Project are valuable in their efforts to bring much-needed freedom to the wrongfully convicted.

I hope this gets you started. It sounds like a fascinating paper!

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