During the past few months, Assemblyman Ron Kim and Asian Americans for Equality have been working to assist Han Tak Lee, a Queens resident wrongly imprisoned for 24 years.
Mr. Lee, a Korean immigrant and U.S. citizen, was sentenced to life in prison in 1989 for the death of his daughter in a fire. But a couple of years ago, a federal judge determined that Mr. Lee was prosecuted based on discredited theories about arson. He was exonerated after spending almost a quarter of a century in a Pennsylvania prison.
A support group helped set Mr. Lee up in a small studio apartment, but as funds ran low, he was on the verge of homelessness. Assemblyman Kim contacted the New York City Mayor’s Office, the Human Resources Administration and AAFE for help in finding alternative housing. In July, Mr. Lee moved into a new apartment and is receiving a voucher that fully covers his monthly rent.
“Thanks to the efforts of Asian Americans for Equality and the Human Resources Administration,” said Assemblyman Kim, Mr. Lee “can begin to live out the rest of his life in peace.”
“After 25 years,” explained Mr. Lee, “I look forward to moving on from this ordeal… I would like to express my sincerest gratitude for all who have supported me through these years, and to thank the elected officials and members of the community for the help that they have provided.”
AAFE Executive Director Chris Kui said, “We are glad to have played a part in helping Mr. Lee find a home, and in bringing a measure of recognition for the many trials he has endured. AAFE will continue to work with Assemblyman Kim’s office in helping Mr. Lee as he transitions to his new life.”
Assemblyman Kim is pushing to enact the Han Tak Lee Act, a bill that would require all fire and explosion investigators in New York to be certified under the latest National Fire Protection Association standards. The legislation would eliminate the use of outdated and discredited scientific theories in arson-related investigations.
Han Tak Lee, Man Wrongfully Imprisoned for 24 Years, Finds New Home, Family – NBC News, August 11, 2016