New York inmates sue over eclipse ban Abroad

New York inmates sue over eclipse ban Abroad
New York inmates sue over eclipse ban Abroad

Six inmates are suing the state of New York because they are not given the opportunity to see the solar eclipse on Monday, April 8. They believe that this has violated their constitutional right to practice their religion. “Watching the solar eclipse with the people I know here is a way for me to feel closer to God,” said Travis Hudson, who is Protestant.

A solar eclipse will be observed in the US on Monday, which will cast a shadow over large parts of New York state for just a few minutes in the afternoon around 3:15 p.m. Can be admired there by just about anyone who wants to, but not for the inmates of the state prisons. For safety reasons, it was decided to keep the prisoners indoors during the solar eclipse.

That didn’t sit well with six inmates at the Woodbourne Correctional Facility in Sullivan County, about 90 miles north of New York City. They filed a lawsuit against the state of New York because they are not allowed to see the rare spectacle. They link the solar eclipse to their faith. The expression of this is a fundamental right for American citizens, and that has now been violated, they believe. Notably, the six inmates come from different religious backgrounds, but they all believe the solar eclipse “is a religious event that they must witness and reflect on in order to respect their faith,” according to court documents.

The Bible describes a kind of solar eclipse during the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and sacred Islamic works speak of a similar eclipse-like phenomenon during the death of the Prophet Muhammad’s son.

Jeremy Zielinsky is one of the six complainants. He is an atheist, but argues that the eclipse is special “to celebrate science, reason and all that is atheism,” according to court documents. Zielinsky was the first to request permission to view the solar eclipse from the prison garden back in January. This permission was granted to him after a few weeks and he was even given eclipse glasses.

The moon obscures the sun during a total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017 in Cerulean, Kentucky. © AP

But when Zielinsky noticed that he was far from the only one for whom the solar eclipse was important, he submitted a new application for his fellow prisoners. Five other detainees also filed a complaint, but were sent packing on the grounds, among other things, that the solar eclipse was not a holy day for their religions.

On March 11, it was decided for the entire state of New York that all state prisons would, for security reasons, keep detainees inside between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., the hours when they would normally be allowed out. It was not clarified why safety could be compromised.

During the partial solar eclipse in 2017, no ban on outdoor recreation was imposed in prisons. The next full solar eclipse in the US will not occur until 2044. The prisoners indicated in their argument that they may not experience it again.


IN PICTURE. This is what the rare ‘hybrid’ solar eclipse looked like

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The article is in Dutch

Tags: York inmates sue eclipse ban


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