New York inmates to view eclipse after settling lawsuit with corrections department


Six inmates at a New York state prison will be allowed to watch next week’s total solar eclipse after they sued the corrections department following its decision to lock down facilities during the rare event.

The inmates – Jeremy Zielinski, Travis Hudson, Bruce Moses, Oscar Nuñez, Jean Marc Desmarat and David Haigh – filed a federal lawsuit after claiming the lockdown decision infringes on their religious rights.

The complaint described the solar eclipse as a religiously significant event and said it is “recognized by various religions as special events that warrant gathering, celebration, worship, and prayer.”

A settlement allowing the inmates to view the event was reached with the state Department of Corrections on Thursday.

NEW YORK INMATES SUE CORRECTIONS DEPARTMENT TO WATCH SOLAR ECLIPSE AMID PLANNED PRISON LOCKDOWNS

Solar eclipse

The above photos show the path of the sun during a total eclipse by the moon on Aug. 21, 2017, near Redmond, Oregon. The next total solar eclipse will take place on Monday, April 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Alston & Bird, the law firm working for the plaintiffs, filed a voluntary discontinuance on Thursday following the settlement.

“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,” a statement from Christopher L. McArdle, Alston & Bird partner, read Thursday.

FOR SOLAR ECLIPSE SAFETY, HERE’S WHAT DRIVERS SHOULD NOT DO ON THE ROAD DURING THE RARE EVENT

All six inmates involved in the matter are incarcerated at the Woodbourne Correctional Facility, which is about 110 miles north of New York City. Their religious beliefs and the charges for which they are serving time vary.

Jail cells

The six New York inmates who filed a lawsuit against the state corrections department after its decision to lockdown prisons during the total solar eclipse on April 8 will be able to view the event after reaching a settlement. (Getty)

Zielinski, 40, is an atheist who was convicted of first-degree rape, according to the New York incarcerated persons database. He also has priors for promoting sexual performance by a child and attempting to disseminate indecent material of a minor. 

Hudson, 50, is a Baptist who was convicted for course of sexual conduct against a child. 

Moses, 50, is serving time for second-degree assault, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a controlled substance. Nuñez, 49, was convicted of second-degree attempted murder. Both men practice Santeria.

Desmarat, 53, a Muslim, is behind bars for second-degree murder and Haigh, 49, a Seventh Day Adventist, was convicted of first-degree manslaughter.

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The lockdown decision that prompted the lawsuit was issued in March and stated that all prisons in New York would operate on a holiday schedule on April 8 because of the eclipse.

total solar eclipse

Prisons in New York will operate on a holiday schedule on April 8 because of the total solar eclipse. (iStock)

After April 8, the next solar eclipse will take place in 2044.

Fox News Digital’s Louis Casiano contributed to this report.



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