New York Inmates Sue to Witness Solar Eclipse

( – Inmates in a New York prison are suing the corrections department after a decision to issue a lockdown order for all state prisons during the upcoming solar eclipse.

Filed on Friday, March 29th, in a court in upstate New York, the lawsuit argues that the lockdown scheduled for Monday, April 8th, is a violation of the constitutional rights of inmates to practice their religious faiths by barring them from participating in an event with religious significance.

The inmates who filed the lawsuit are all held in Woodbourne Correctional Facility. The six plaintiffs come from various religious and philosophical backgrounds, including a Muslim, a Baptist, a Christian, two Santeria practitioners, and even an atheist.

The complaint argues that the “rare, natural phenomenon” of a solar eclipse has “great religious significance to many” and cited passages from holy books such as the Quran and the Bible, one passage describing a phenomenon during the crucifixion of Jesus and another at the death of Muhammad’s son.

The last visible eclipse in the U.S. was in 2017 and the next one will not happen until 2044. Due to its infrequency, the complaint argues that the event warrants the right to gather, celebrate, worship, and pray. The atheist inmate argued on a scientific basis, claiming he was granted special permission a month before the lockdown order to view the event with special glasses that the state agreed to provide him.

The other five plaintiffs made requests to view the event. One received no response, and four were denied because it’s not specifically listed as a holy day in their respective religion.

A spokesperson for the corrections department would not comment on the litigation but said they consider all religious requests and that the requests to view the solar eclipse remain under review.

The historic eclipse will take place on April 8th and cast its shadow over much of the U.S. A wave of travel is expected from across the country toward the path of totality and a better view.

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