NY penitentiary will ban sunbathing during


New York inmates sue the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision over its decision to close prisons during a total solar eclipse, which is expected to occur on Monday (8/3).

The lawsuit, filed in a federal court located in the state of New York, alleges that the prison closure — called a “lockdown” — violates the constitutional rights of inmates to practice their faith, as it would deprive them of observing a religiously significant event.

The plaintiffs are six men incarcerated at the Woodbourne Correctional Facility, about 100 miles from New York. The group includes a Baptist, a Muslim, a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, two Santeria practitioners and an atheist.

According to the lawsuit, “a solar eclipse is a rare natural phenomenon with religious importance to many.” The text also cites a biblical passage in which a solar eclipse is described at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, as well as the holy Islamic book making reference to a similar event when the Prophet Muhammad’s son died.

The eclipse was last seen in the United States in 2017 and cannot be seen again until 2044.

The lawsuit also states that the atheist detainee received special permission in March to watch the eclipse, with specific glasses provided by the government. The authorization took place before the prison system declared lockdown on Monday.

New York state spokesman Thomas Mailey said the prison system takes all requests under religious pretexts into consideration, and that eclipse-related requests are under review.

Last month, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision announced that the prison system will operate on a holiday schedule on Monday. In this way, inmates will be imprisoned in the unit between 2pm and 5pm, a time when outdoor activities usually take place in the penitentiary courtyard.

The total eclipse of the sun is expected to be seen in New York at around 3:15 pm for mere minutes as the moon passes through the space between the sun and Earth.

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The article is in Portuguese

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