New York Inmates Sue Over Solar Eclipse Lockdown Citing Violations of Religious Freedom

John Finney photography / Getty Images via Business Insider Photo Source: John Finney photography / Getty Images via Business Insider

In a unique legal battle unfolding in New York, a group of inmates are challenging the state's Department of Corrections' decision to impose a lockdown during the upcoming solar eclipse on April 8. The lawsuit, filed by six inmates at Woodbourne Correctional Facility, represent different religious beliefs and allege that the lockdown infringes on their religious freedom rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The legal action comes after acting Commissioner Daniel Martuscello III issued a memo on March 11, announcing the suspension or restriction of visitation at half of the department's facilities on the day of the eclipse. Additionally, all facilities are set to be locked down and mandate inmates remain in their designated housing from 2 to 5 p.m. on April 8, citing security concerns.

The plaintiffs, who are Christian, Muslim, Santerian and atheist, argue that the lockdown violates their religious practices and denies them the opportunity to observe the eclipse. They contend that the eclipse holds spiritual significance across various faiths and cultures, pointing to interpretations in Christianity, Islam, and Santeria, among others.

Notably, one of the plaintiffs, an atheist, had initially received permission to view the eclipse using special glasses provided by the state. However, this permission was later revoked along with similar requests from other inmates, prompting the lawsuit.

The inmates' legal action seeks to compel the corrections department to remove the lockdown restriction. They argue that the current policy unfairly discriminates against them.

Selena Richards
Selena Richards
Selena earned her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Brandman University, laying the foundation for her interest in and understanding of human behavior. She works full-time at Law Commentary and is dedicated to merging her passion for pop culture with legal insights. Combining her analytical skills and interest in staying updated on trends, she strives to deliver pop culture legal news, bridging the gap between law and contemporary society.
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