New York inmates sue to view solar eclipse after state orders prisons to close – Science News (Trending Perfect)


NEW YORK (AP) — Inmates in New York have filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Corrections over its decision to close prisons through next Monday. Total solar eclipse.

The lawsuit filed Friday in federal court in upstate New York says the April 8 closure violates inmates' constitutional rights to practice their religion by preventing them from participating in an important religious event.

The plaintiffs are six men of different religious backgrounds incarcerated at the Woodburn Correctional Facility in Woodburn. They include a Baptist, a Muslim, an Adventist, two Santeria practitioners, as well as an atheist.

“A solar eclipse is a rare natural phenomenon of great religious significance to many,” the complaint states, noting that Biblical passages describe an eclipse-like phenomenon during the crucifixion of Christ while Islamic holy works describe a similar event when the Prophet Muhammad’s son died. .

The celestial event, which was last seen in the United States in 2017 and will not be seen in the country again until 2044, “calls for gathering, celebration, worship, and prayer,” the complaint said.

The lawsuit states that one of the named plaintiffs, an atheist, received special permission last month to view the eclipse using glasses that the state would provide, but that was before the system-wide shutdown was issued.

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The lawsuit states that four other plaintiffs then requested permission, but officials refused, considering the solar eclipse not a holy day for their religions. The sixth prisoner said he did not receive any response.

Thomas Miley, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections, said the agency does not comment on pending litigation, but takes all requests for religious accommodations into consideration. Those related to viewing the eclipse are currently under review, he said.

Daniel Martosello III, the department's acting commissioner, issued a memo on March 11 announcing that all of the state's correctional facilities would operate on a holiday schedule next Monday.

This means that incarcerated individuals will remain in their housing units except during emergencies from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., which are generally the normal hours for outdoor recreation in prisons, according to the lawsuit.

There will also be no visits in nearly twenty prisons in the path of the eclipse next Monday, while visits in other correctional institutions will end at two in the afternoon.

Martosello said the department will distribute solar eclipse safety glasses to employees and incarcerated individuals at prisons in the path of totality so they can view the eclipse from their designated work location or housing units.

Communities in the western and northern regions of the state are expected to receive Best view of total eclipse, including Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Lake Placid and Plattsburgh.

The total eclipse is expected to be seen in those parts of New York around 3:15 p.m. and will last only minutes as the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, temporarily blocking the sun and turning day into night.

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