New York Inmates to View Solar Eclipse After Settling Lawsuit

New York Inmates to View Solar Eclipse After Settling Lawsuit
The International Space Station is silhouetted against the sun during a solar eclipse, as seen from Ross Lake, Northern Cascades National Park in Washington state, on Aug. 21, 2017. (Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP)

A group of inmates imprisoned at the Woodbourne Correctional Facility in upstate New York will be allowed to watch Monday’s solar eclipse after suing the state’s corrections department over a planned lockdown that would have forced them to stay indoors.

Attorneys for the six inmates housed at the facility in Sullivan County said in a statement on Thursday that they have settled with the state in a manner that allows the men to view the solar eclipse “in accordance with their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

The inmates include a Baptist, a Muslim, a Seventh-Day Adventist, two practitioners of Santeria, and an atheist.

The lawsuit was filed by the men over a statewide plan to confine prisoners to their housing units for safety reasons on Monday afternoon when the total solar eclipse expected to sweep across North America. The eclipse will pass over Mexico and the United States, temporarily darkening the skies, before exiting over Canada.

In their lawsuit, filed in a northern New York federal court, the men argued the planned confinement violated their constitutional rights to practice their faiths by preventing them from taking part in a religiously significant event.

Solar eclipses occur when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun at just the right time, temporarily “eclipsing” or blocking the Sun’s light and casting a shadow on the Earth. Solar eclipses can be either total or partial, depending on how much of the Sun’s face is blocked.

Monday’s total solar eclipse marks the second in the United States in seven years and is expected to gather a crowd of roughly 44 million people who live within the path of totality, which includes major cities like Dallas, Indianapolis, and Cleveland.

The next one is not set to take place until 2044.

‘Event of Great Religious Significance’

In their lawsuit, the incarcerated men said the solar eclipse is “an event of great religious significance” evoking various important religious gatherings and celebrations.

They further noted that the eclipse—and the planned confinement—falls at a time when outdoor recreation is typically permitted.

The lawsuit lists the New York Department Of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), DOCCS Acting Commissioner Daniel Martuscello III, DOCCS Superintendent David Howard, and Deputy Superintendent for Program Services Danielle Glebocki, as defendants.

According to Fox News, the imprisoned men are behind bars for an array of convictions, including first-degree rape, sexual conduct against a child, second-degree murder, second-degree attempted murder, first-degree manslaughter, second-degree assault, and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, as well as criminal possession of a controlled substance.

“We are pleased that, in response to our lawsuit alleging religious discrimination, New York State has entered into a binding settlement agreement that will allow our six clients to view the solar eclipse in accordance with their sincerely held religious beliefs,” Christopher L. McArdle, an attorney representing the inmates, said in a statement to Fox News.

New York DOCCS spokesperson Thomas Mailey said the department had agreed to allow the six inmates to view the eclipse in return for the men agreeing to drop their suit with prejudice.

“The lawsuit came to an appropriate resolution,” Mr. Mailey said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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