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New York prisoners allowed to watch April 8 solar eclipse, state Department of Corrections says

New York prisoners sue to watch the April 8 eclipse, citing religious grounds
New York prisoners sue to watch the April 8 eclipse, citing religious grounds 02:01

NEW YORK -- The New York state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision has agreed to let a group of incarcerated people watch Monday's solar eclipse, settling a lawsuit filed by six inmates.

The state had purchased eclipse glasses for the prison population, but later, state prisons said they would operate on a holiday schedule for safety reasons and require inmates to stay indoors from 2-5 p.m., which is when the eclipse is expected to be visible in parts of New York.

Six men at Woodbourne Correctional Facility sued on religious grounds, arguing it violated their constitutional rights to practice their faiths and citing various religious links to eclipses. The six men include a Baptist, a Muslim, a Seventh-Day Adventist, two practitioners of Santeria, and an atheist, who, according to the lawsuit, said he wanted to view the eclipse to "celebrate common humanity.

Thomas Mailey, a spokesperson for the corrections department, said Thursday the department has agreed to permit the six individuals to view the eclipse, while plaintiffs have agreed to drop their suit with prejudice.

The lawyers representing the inmates said in a statement, "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."

The DOC also said visitation would be canceled at 23 prisons within the path of totality and will end at 2 p.m. for all other facilities.

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