NewsInmates sue NY prison for eclipse viewing rights, citing religious freedom

Inmates sue NY prison for eclipse viewing rights, citing religious freedom

Prisoners from the USA sued the penitentiary. They want to see the solar eclipse.
Prisoners from the USA sued the penitentiary. They want to see the solar eclipse.
Images source: © Pixabay
8:12 AM EDT, April 3, 2024

An unprecedented situation has unfolded in the United States. A group of prisoners has filed a lawsuit against a New York correctional facility. The inmates are demanding the right to observe the upcoming solar eclipse.

Prisoners in New York sued the correctional facility due to the decision to close the institution during the solar eclipse next Monday.

As reported by ctvnews.ca, the lawsuit, filed on Friday (March 29) before a federal court in northern New York, argues that the lockdown scheduled for April 8 infringes upon prisoners' constitutional right to practice their religion, thereby preventing them from witnessing an event of religious significance.

The solar eclipse is a rare, natural spectacle that holds great religious importance for many. The lawsuit mentions that the Bible describes a phenomenon akin to an eclipse during the crucifixion of Jesus. Similarly, Islamic texts recount an event resembling an eclipse upon the death of the Prophet Muhammad's son.

The solar eclipse, last observed in the USA in 2017, will be visible next Monday, with the next one not expected until 2044. According to the lawsuit, such occasions justify gatherings, celebrations, worship, and prayer.
One of the men involved in the lawsuit, Jeremy Zieliński, had been granted special permission last month to view the eclipse with state-provided glasses. However, this permission was issued before the implementation of a system-wide lockdown.
When four other plaintiffs sought permission, their requests were denied by officials who argued that the solar eclipse does not align with a holy day of their religions.

What does the prison say?

Prison Department spokesperson Thomas Mailey stated that the correctional facility refrains from commenting on ongoing legal matters. However, he assured that all requests regarding religious practices are reviewed. This includes those pertaining to the eclipse observation, which are currently under analysis.
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