In New York, inmates are taking legal action against the state corrections department for implementing a lockdown in prisons during the total solar eclipse on April 8.

Filed on March 29 in federal court in upstate New York, the lawsuit argues that the lockdown violates inmates' constitutional rights to practice their religions by depriving them of participation in a religiously significant event.

The plaintiffs, comprising six men with diverse religious affiliations incarcerated at Woodbourne Correctional Facility in Woodbourne, include a Baptist, a Muslim, a Seventh-Day Adventist, two practitioners of Santeria, and an atheist.

The complaint highlights the rarity and religious significance of a solar eclipse, drawing parallels from biblical and Islamic scriptures. It notes passages describing eclipse-like phenomena during Jesus' crucifixion and the death of the Prophet Muhammad's son.

The celestial occurrence, last visible in the U.S. in 2017 and not expected again until 2044, is deemed worthy of gathering, celebration, worship, and prayer, as stated in the complaint.

One plaintiff, an atheist, had previously been granted special permission to view the eclipse with state-provided glasses. However, this was before the system-wide lockdown was enforced.

Subsequently, four other plaintiffs sought permission but were denied, with officials stating that the solar eclipse is not recognized as a holy day in their religions. The response to the sixth inmate's request is unspecified.

Thomas Mailey, a spokesperson for the corrections department, declined to comment on ongoing litigation but affirmed that the agency evaluates all requests for religious accommodations. Requests related to viewing the eclipse are reportedly under review.

On March 11, Daniel Martuscello III, the acting commissioner of the department, issued a memo stating that all state correctional facilities would follow a holiday schedule the following Monday.

This schedule entails incarcerated individuals remaining in their housing units, except for emergencies, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., which coincides with the usual hours allocated for outdoor recreation in prisons, as mentioned in the lawsuit.

Moreover, nearly two dozen prisons in the path of totality will suspend visitation next Monday, while visitation at other correctional facilities will conclude at 2 p.m.

Martuscello also announced that the department would distribute solar eclipse safety glasses to staff and incarcerated individuals at prisons in the path of totality. This provision enables them to view the eclipse from their designated work locations or housing units.

Communities in the western and northern parts of the state, including Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Lake Placid, and Plattsburgh, are anticipated to have the optimal viewing of the total eclipse. The eclipse is projected to occur around 3:15 p.m. in these regions, lasting only a few minutes as the moon momentarily obstructs the sun, resulting in a temporary transformation of day into night.