​Sullivan County inmates sue over solar eclipse lockdown

Some inmates in Sullivan County have filed a lawsuit because they won't be able to see the solar eclipse on April 8.

Bianca Rosembert

Apr 3, 2024, 2:13 AM

Updated 16 days ago

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Some inmates in Sullivan County have filed a lawsuit because they won't be able to see the solar eclipse on April 8.
Six inmates at Woodbourne Correctional Facility are suing the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision for violation of religious freedom.
The men suing are of various faiths, including a Baptist, a Muslim, a Seventh-Day Adventist and two practitioners of Santeria, as well as an atheist.
The celestial event, which was last visible in the U.S. in 2017 and won’t be seen in the country again until 2044, “warrant gathering, celebration, worship, and prayer,” the complaint reads.
Daniel Martuscello III, the department’s acting commissioner, issued a memo March 11 announcing that all state correctional facilities will operate on a holiday schedule next Monday.
That means incarcerated individuals will remain in their housing units except for emergency situations 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 visitation at nearly two dozen prisons in the path of totality, while visitation at other correctional facilities will end at 2 p.m.
In a statement released to News 12, the Department of Corrections said it part, "the Department has taken a proactive approach to ensure the safety of New York State's incarcerated population and releases as well as DOCCS staff."
Four of the plaintiffs asked for permission to see the solar eclipse but were denied by officials who ruled the solar eclipse is not listed as a holy day for their religions, the lawsuit states. The sixth inmate said he never received a response.
The Department of Corrections said it doesn’t comment on pending litigation but takes all requests for religious accommodations under consideration. Requests related to viewing the eclipse are currently under review.


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