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Inmates win right to see eclipse on Monday: Here’s what court ruling means

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  • Staff Report 

In a landmark settlement with the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, six inmates will now be able to experience Monday’s solar eclipse, a sight they argued was crucial for their religious beliefs. Filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, their lawsuit claimed denying them this opportunity would violate their constitutional rights. The agreement, details of which were not disclosed, marked a victory for the plaintiffs, representing diverse faiths, who asserted the eclipse’s significance to their spiritual reflections.

Attorney Christopher L. McArdle, representing the inmates, expressed satisfaction with the outcome, emphasizing the lawsuit’s role in ensuring their clients could observe the eclipse in line with their faith. The Department, through spokesman Thomas Mailey, acknowledged the lawsuit’s resolution as appropriate, highlighting its efforts in reviewing religious accommodation requests for the eclipse viewing. The settlement’s terms included allowing the six men, among other stipulations, to witness the event, leading to the lawsuit’s dismissal.

The case underscored the importance of religious practices in correctional settings, bringing to light the diverse spiritual needs of inmates. With the eclipse expected to attract significant attention across New York, the decision underscored the state’s readiness to consider individual requests for religious observance, even within its prison system. As New York prepares for a rare astronomical event, the settlement ensures these six inmates will not miss out on a moment of reflection and wonder.