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New York inmates are suing to watch the solar eclipse after state orders prisons locked down

NEW YORK — Inmates in New York are suing the state corrections department over the decision to lock down prisons during next Monday’s total solar eclipse.

Inmates in New York are taking legal action against the state corrections department because they are not allowed to leave prisons during the upcoming solar eclipse.

A lawsuit was filed in federal court in upstate New York arguing that the lockdown on April 8 violates inmates’ right to practice their religions by keeping them from participating in a significant religious event.

The six plaintiffs, who follow different religions and are held at Woodbourne Correctional Facility, claim their constitutional rights are violated by the lockdown.

The complaint emphasizes the religious importance of a solar eclipse, citing similar events in Bible passages and sacred Islamic works, and argues that it warrants gatherings and prayer.

The rare celestial event, last seen in the U.S. in 2017 and not expected again until 2044, is seen as something that should be celebrated and observed by the plaintiffs.

One of the plaintiffs, an atheist, was given permission to view the eclipse with special glasses, but this was before the lockdown was announced.

Four other plaintiffs requested permission but were denied because officials did not consider the solar eclipse as a religiously significant day for their faiths. The sixth inmate did not receive a response.

A spokesperson for the corrections department mentioned that they don't comment on ongoing legal matters, but they do review all requests for religious accommodations, including those related to the eclipse.

The department’s acting commissioner announced that all state correctional facilities will follow a holiday schedule on the day of the eclipse, meaning inmates will be confined to their housing units except for emergencies from 2 to 5 p.m.

This is during the usual outdoor recreation hours, and there will be no visitation at nearly two dozen prisons in the path of the total eclipse, with visitation at other facilities ending at 2 p.m.

The department plans to distribute eclipse safety glasses for staff and inmates in the path of totality, so they can view the eclipse from their assigned work location or housing units.

Communities in certain parts of New York, such as Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Lake Placid, and Plattsburgh, are expected to have the best views of the total eclipse.

The total eclipse is predicted to occur around 3:15 p.m. in those areas, lasting for a few minutes as the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, temporarily blocking the sun and causing darkness during the day.

NEW YORK — Prisoners in New York are taking legal action against the state corrections department for deciding to put prisons on lockdown during the upcoming total solar eclipse on Monday.

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