August 24th, 2010
10:33 AM ET

L.A. jail tests 'intolerable heat' beam on brawling inmates

An L.A. county jail will be testing the Assault Intervention Device.

Officials at a Los Angeles County jail plan to test out an invisible heat-beam weapon originally developed by the military as a way to subdue brawling inmates by making them feel "intolerable heat."

The technology, called an Assault Intervention Device, is a non lethal-weapon developed by Raytheon Company. It originally was scaled down for use at the jail.

The device "emits a focused beam of wave energy that travels at the speed of light and produces an intolerable heating sensation that causes targeted individuals to flee. The sensation immediately ceases when the targeted individual moves away from the beam," according to Raytheon's website.

Deputies have tested the device, which is controlled by a jail officer using a joystick.

"We believe that technology can help solve problems facing the corrections community, including addressing issues of inmate violence," Sheriff Lee Baca said during a news conference. "The Assault Intervention Device appears uniquely suited to address some of the more difficult inmate violence issues without the drawbacks of tools currently available to us."

"This device will allow us to quickly intervene without having to enter the area and without incapacitating or injuring either combatant," Baca added.

Officials say they hope the device can help quell inmate assaults and reduce prison violence. Its use will be monitored by the U.S. Department of Justice's National Institute of Justice and Pennsylvania State University.

The device was installed and is being tested at Pitchess Detention Center at the L.A. County jail in Castaic, California.

That jail was the site of a 200-inmate brawl this weekend in which inmates threw rocks and debris at officers, who were attempting to stop them from entering a restricted area, according to CNN affiliate KTLA.

KTLA reported the brawl lasted for an hour before tear gas and non-lethal weapons were used. CNN is awaiting comment on whether the new Assault Intervention Device was employed during the brawl.

soundoff (307 Responses)
  1. cat

    "KTLA reported the hour-long brawl lasted for an hour"

    I chuckled

    August 24, 2010 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
    • spellcheck

      That jail was the site of a 200-inmate brawl this weekend in which inmates threw rocks and debris at officers, who were ATTEMPTING them from entering a restricted area. Didnt know it was possible to attempt somebody

      August 24, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Lubiana

      I thought the hour-long brawl lasted for 5 minutes

      August 24, 2010 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • dave

      testing military grade weapons on inmates? Who says this is safe? How can a ray gun that delivers intolerable rays that can boil your skin be safe? How about if we spend more on education, Jobs, changing drug laws? stop incarcerating people for non violent crimes? 2 million people in the USA are in the prison system. I'm quite sure in some places being black is still a punishable offense. I know it's true in Austin Tx.

      August 24, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • G

      @ spellcheck
      "That jail was the site of a 200-inmate brawl this weekend in which inmates threw rocks and debris at officers, who were attempting to stop them from entering a restricted area"
      You Sir or Ma'am, need to read before you spew your verbal diarrhea all over the place!

      August 24, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gameboy

      Instead of a joystick, can you use an XBox 360 Controller?

      August 24, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carl

      I have been hit with the military version of this (I worked for the company selling them). It is a weird heat. Very hot, then poof.. you are fine. I am sure someone will have a hear attack and blame the machine but they are safe. Like I said, I have been hit by one. Fun? No! Effective? Yes!!

      August 24, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peanuts

      i was attempted last week =( i feel violated

      August 24, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Claire Morton


      Calm down G, the mistake was actually there before they corrected it. Look down at some of the other posts that were made before yours. I guess you guys should get paid for proofreading, they corrected the mistake the OP referred to as well. Don't hate G.

      August 24, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • martha

      Hey Dave, there are funds pouring into 'prevention' type programs! It will take at least ONE generation to get some of this crime behind in the mean time, those that are behind bars and are just down right mean....I say use this machine...!!

      August 24, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • DB

      Dave: The heat beam is much better than shooting the inmates to control serious problems. The inmates are in there for a reason and the U.S. needs to adopt harsher punishment laws. I am sick of paying taxes on these low-life crazies!

      August 24, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • vanderdick

      A dis-functional and tyranic Goverment at work with your tax dollars. Today they test this on inmates, tomorrow it will be deployed on the top of every police car in the country. Americans are both brainwashed and sick in their minds.

      August 24, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Dave you are an enlightened individual! I could not agree more with your post. The land of the free incarcerates more of its citizens that any other country in the WORLD. The system is setup to warehouse people for a reason. It’s all about punishment, not justice, rehabilitation or crime prevention. Our government is allowing big businesses to send hundreds of thousands of jobs to other countries to take advantage of their cheap labor. That in itself is the REAL crime. It’s not about lowering consumer prices either, it’s about lining pockets of a few people.

      August 24, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • English

      spellcheck, you really need to learn to read. The text clearly states "attempting to stop them" not, as you miss-quoted "attempting them".

      August 24, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • geogaddi

      was the young, unmarried woman quoted?

      i think i was mr-quoted once. very unpleasant experience. he used his ankle!

      i have a feminist friend that ms-quotes people all the time...

      August 24, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • ern

      uhh it doesnt say taht

      August 24, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • NCPrime

      @G, English and ern
      The mistakes in the article have been corrected since then. You must know that they can edit articles after posting them, right?

      August 24, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve O

      And in other news a man checked himself for freshness on a Metro Rail today in what was called by riders of the rail car, "A cavity check of biblical proportions". More on this story as it develops. Kind of makes you want to check yourself doesn't it? Ha Ha Ha!

      August 24, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve O

      Did They close Wheyside? I didn't know this, oh well I moved out of LA back in 97. I feel much better now.

      August 24, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Tall Man

      A new way to "fry" inmates. I like it!

      August 24, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • bigboxes

      A bullet is very effective and less expensive. No repeat offenders as well.

      August 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Betweenlines

      This device sounds like something out of Austin Powers...why don't you and the laser get a friggin' room. Needs to be on a shark's head.

      August 25, 2010 at 7:56 am | Report abuse |
    • LRoy

      Some may think this is cruel and unusual punishment.

      But for some of these alleged criminals, it's going to get (literally) a hell of a lot hotter when they die unless they repent and do penance.

      August 26, 2010 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jedi Falcon

      Hey Kids! We got a real treat for you today! These gentleman have volunteered to see how a laser-beam works on subduing a suspect!

      Now who wants to come up here and do some shootin!

      August 27, 2010 at 5:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Bull

      A heat beam they will get over.A blast from a shotgun will stop the problem.

      August 27, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • The Mangese

      Who wants to bet that this won't be used on peaceful protesters in the near future?

      August 27, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • evoc

      Looks like a blast of microwave energy...heat 'em up, sterilize them, give them cancer, change their DNA structure, then release them back into society.

      August 27, 2010 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kurt

      Well, when you take into account commercials breaks, it only laster about 45 minutes.

      August 28, 2010 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
    • deputyword

      If you read that line again it says "KTLA reported the brawl lasted for an hour..."

      August 29, 2010 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • mac henderson

      KTLA reported the brawl lasted for an hour before tear gas and non-lethal weapons were used. i dident read it that way you said, unless I missed something

      August 31, 2010 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
  2. ThThite

    "who were attempting them from entering a restricted area, according to CNN affiliate KTLA."

    you mean.. preventing them from entering?

    August 24, 2010 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  3. u

    "who were attempting them from entering a restricted area"

    August 24, 2010 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • GHynson

      Being LA,
      They were probably "Tempting" them to enter the restricted area so they could use lethal force on them.
      Then use it as an excuse as to why so many prisoners were killed.

      August 24, 2010 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      ...JHynson, I think you missed the point of the article...this heat beam does not kill people, guns kill people and the officers are choosing a different method...duh

      August 24, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mike

    Why do they think that no one will make a working copy for the bad guys, and evict officers from police stations and firemen from their jobs? We know that what one man makes, another one can too. This extreme heat is not inhumane, the sun will do this quite soon to all, anyway, but really, this kind of think should be kept a secret. Even the average armed robber could soon have a mini heat generator, point it a a cashier, and wow. CNN is not right in making this into news.

    August 24, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • scroo yoo

      When space age death rays are outlawed only outlaws will have space age death rays

      August 24, 2010 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      The same reason common criminals don't have access to jet fighters and tanks. It's too expensive and bulky. Maybe someday someone can make a man-portable version, but right now it has to be controlled by joystick and appears that it would be in a fixed position. Not very practical for your common criminal to use on the local SevenEleven.

      Get a clue before you let that pea size brain out off it's leash.

      August 24, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      And also, do you have any clue how long it takes to miniaturize technology? Nuclear weapons took decades before they could be loaded onto subs. Nuclear reactors, cell phones, computers, TVs, it all takes decades to squish something down into a portable device.

      August 24, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • dat

      This is a non-lethal technology. I doubt the bad guys are interested in disabling without causing harm. Bad guys will continue to use guns. Whether they are legal or not.

      August 24, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • danbeaches

      Good point the bad guys will eventually get these and it is going to be interesting to see how people react when the regular police implement this as well.

      August 24, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • stan t

      to the people who responded to mikes post. this is NOT 'non-lethal' technology, and the device doesnt work by making people 'feel' heat. the device works by heating the body of the attacker. high skin temperture = pain to one degree or other. stay in the beam long enough and your skin literally cooks no different than if you put you hand in a fire. this is LESS than lethal technology. that doesnt mean it cant kill. with regards to criminals using the same tech, it would be very easy to build a device SIMILAR to this technology and make it portable. all one would need is a magnetron from a microwave oven and a battery pack to power it. wit ha few hundred dollars in hardware using a computer UPS as ther abttery pack you could literally knock something together in a saturday afternoon. the only difference between a home brew unit and the one made by ratheon is the pros use millimeter wave sources of microwaves. smaller wavelength means longer propagation distances. but if you want something that will work across the counter of a 7-11 the 10cm wavelength magnetron in a normal microwave oven would work plenty good.

      August 26, 2010 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arick

      More humane than a bullet.

      August 26, 2010 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. MDWhite

    "KTLA reported the hour-long brawl lasted for an hour before tear gas and non-lethal weapons were used..."

    "That jail was the site of a 200-inmate brawl this weekend in which inmates threw rocks and debris at officers, who were attempting them from entering a restricted area, according to CNN affiliate KTLA."

    "...the hour-long brawl lasted for an hour..."? and "...who were attempting them from entering..."?

    Ah, another example of the best of the Age of Diminished Expectations. Do you folks employ editors or does CoCo the Chimp run your news room? Basic journalism? This is fundamental elementary school grammar. It's "Vapid Happy Talk Local TV News Meets the Internet."

    A suggestion: hire some seasoned pros with some old-school journalism and editing skills that transcend that of the usual crop of disaffected kids whose only writing experience is text messaging their thousands of friends from the local Starbucks. Or, at the very minimum, do a grammar or spell check before the story is posted.

    Getting it right isn't always necessarily better than getting it first. I learned that my first day in journalism school about 30 years ago.

    August 24, 2010 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Denizen Kate

      Age of Diminished Expectations. Thank you. I love that.

      Seriously, CNN, how difficult would it be to have just one semi-literate person proofread an article before you post it? Incompetence is running rampant in our society, and it shows up all too often on your site.

      August 24, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Russ

      Hiring literate English-speaking people costs money. It is much cheaper to outsource the job to India. Be grateful CNN hasn't erected a paywall yet.

      August 24, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Hey Russ,

      If those Indians are anything like the ones that I know personally, they probably have better English writing skills than an American.

      August 24, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • geogaddi

      'paying for s3x is like paying for parking: why pay for something when, if you apply yourself just a little bit, you can get it for free?'

      -g. costanza

      August 24, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. victim of democrat hypocrisy

    So what is it, a microwave emitter? Big deal. Nothing a mattress or blanket wouldn't stop.

    Cue the California lawyers who will sue the state because this might cause cancer in inmates.

    August 24, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      ask yourself this. Would you want this technology deployed on you in the process of you be arrested? if the answer to that question is no. then send it back to the drawing board. We have all seen the explosion of Taser use by law enforcement, christ they taser little old ladies now... dont give law enforcement anything they can abuse. Less than lethal, is not better, sometimes it's worse, cause there is no deterent to NOT use it.

      August 24, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • garet03

      Microwaves cook food from the inside out. All it may take is the guy at the controls to leave it aimed at someone too long and there could be burns internaly. Also a real life apllication of this machine may be different from human testing already done. example: inmates may end up much closer to this thing than was considered safe during testing. And yes lawyers will have a field day if there serious injuries. however how smart was it to place a tactical weapon meant to be used against enemy soldierscombatants etc. on persons who still retain legal rights in this country?

      August 24, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • CrashDaPlace

      Prisoners should not have a legal right... First of all, THEY'RE CRIMANALS, most of which RAPIST, MURDERERS, CHILD MOLESTERS, those are they ones that get involved in riots... They already messed up once, if they do it a second time, SCREW THEM... Let them cook, in the CHAIR...
      They're not talking about spending an extra 5 in the shower, theyre talking about LETHAL RIOTS being dispursed, before LAW ABIDING citizens (prison guards) are hurt, or killed... I'm sick of reading comments from Hippies... I bet your all from california... Go hug a damned tree...

      August 24, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gr8tScot121GW

      Actually, no they won't be burned internally. These things operate at such high frequencies that it won't penetrate deep enough to damage you internally. They operate at a much higher frequency than your microwave oven, and are designed to penetrate to your nerve endings and no further.

      August 24, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mike Stouffer

    What is this world coming to? Comply or else.... "testing on inmates"....behind the walls today and soon coming to a city near you.

    August 24, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      You're completely right.

      August 24, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denizen Kate

      Didn't the Nazi "scientists" conduct tests much like this on concentration camp inmates? I don't see the difference, sad to say. And by the way, what if some poor slob is knocked unconscious and can't get out of the way of this microwave beam? Does he get cooked? Is that acceptable? I realize these people are in prison, most of them for a reason, but come on!

      August 24, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ogre

      It has already been tested. It's not being tested on the inmates to see if it works/is safe. It's being tested to see if it's effective in instilling fear and the resulting good behavior in the inmates.

      Personally, I can't wait until the first time they have to use it and I hope the video ends up on Youtube. Those inmates "earned" their way into prison. Pain and suffering should be a daily reality for each and every one that isn't 100% compliant.

      August 24, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Moli

      Do you people read? This has been tested AND utilized by the military! The inmates are not the test subjects.

      August 24, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joey

      you need to see that these people did stuff to get behind bars... and officers are just doing there jobs to do stuff like this. think about it like this, people sell stuff like drugs and clam its there jobs. Ok well now its just the officers jobs to arrest people doing stuff like that. So now they are now officers should be aloud to use what ever they need to use to keep them self's safe doing there job. Sucks for the people that killed and did nastys other stuff to other people.

      August 24, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • ATMoore

      Would you rather a couple of totally innocent prison guards die in the place of the murderers, rapists and thieves. This weapon is used as a NON LETHAL tool against the worst of the worst. People beg and plead for more non harsh ways to treat prisoners and now you get one and you still complain. Some people are never happy

      August 24, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mara

      agreed. this is sickening. we pretend to be a great enlightened democracy but we might as well be in China.

      August 25, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • RJ


      Invoking Godwins Law on you. You're out!

      August 26, 2010 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
  8. Keith Beal

    Just what we need a device that inflicts horrific pain and leaves no evidence!

    August 24, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • otto

      We already have that. Its called "Jersey Shore"

      August 24, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Not a Member

      It's called waterboarding, Had it for years

      August 24, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Russ

      And otto wins The Comment Of The Day.

      August 24, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • siranda

      Otto, now THAT was funny!

      August 24, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. hyper71

    Wow! A prejudicial headline really can ruin a good thing. What do you suppose the reponses would have been if instead the headline was, "New, safe technology reduces prison injuries and deaths." Shame on you CNN!

    August 24, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      there is so much room for abuse from technology like this. Sure, if it's implemented safely, and used only when absolutly neccasary. but what's to stop guards from pointing it into a confined area where escape isn't possible. this type of technology was designed as a dispersant. to disperse large crowds. not to be deployed in tight quarters where you can not disengage.

      August 24, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pablo

      Robert Isn't a "a confined area where escape isn't possible" also more commonly knnown as a prison????

      August 24, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mara

      How can you possibly interpret this article as saying that this technology is safe when it specifically says that they are TESTING it on inmates?

      this is sickening. what has happened to this country's moral compass?

      August 25, 2010 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bulloch

    I can't believe people are crying about the use of NON-lethal devices on violet criminals. They are VIOLENT criminals, not tax accountants, it's their nature to hurt others. Unless you want these people in your neighborhoods, around your kids, quit your crying and support anything these guards need to do to protect themselves and keep violent offenders off the streets.

    August 24, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      They always test on soldiers, then prisoners, then civilians. This will be coming to a protest near you.

      August 24, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      you know how you stop VILOANT Criminals, isolation... not microwaves that splash an entire area.

      August 24, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      Its used to break up riots, which result in death. Right now we do that be whacking them with clubs or tazors, this is more humane, not less if people would pay attention to facts.

      August 25, 2010 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • mrlgh

      Ya, these are criminals people....test it on Tax Accountants! LOL

      August 26, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ricardo

    Question...can we combine this with frozen dinners to eliminate the need for a Prison Kitchen staff? You can cook the inmate and his/her dinner at the same time! Genius!!

    August 24, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. dave2

    I wish i had several million dollars to blow on a heat ray! Dude thats awesome! Woot, i bet its microwave based... Sweet, microwaving people, that's awesome... Em...What happened to the good ol'days of shooting people with gas or a hose (aqua gun!)...

    August 24, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Big Al

    Make them watch a Sarah Palin speech. That should make them flee.

    August 24, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jared

      So, you're implying that most prisoners are liberals? 🙂

      August 24, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. sambrown1

    Do you people know how to read? It says "the brawl lasted for and hour" and "were attempting to STOP them..."
    Can you say DUH?

    August 24, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Melissa

      I am thinking that the article has been edited to make the necessary changes since these postings. We are seeing the updates now.

      August 24, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • awi

      Use your logic skills, Sam.

      August 24, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Christopher

    Awesome! When we get these into the prisons we can finally catch up with countries like Egypt and Jordan in the torturing-our-prisoners race!!!!! It's the only logical use for this sort of equipment, and I'm sure prison guards and wardens will only find the most moral and ethical times to test it out.

    August 24, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • CrashDaPlace

      Prisoners should not have a legal right... First of all, THEY'RE CRIMANALS, most of which RAPIST, MURDERERS, CHILD MOLESTERS, those are they ones that get involved in riots... They already messed up once, if they do it a second time, SCREW THEM... Let them cook, in the CHAIR...
      They're not talking about spending an extra 5 in the shower, theyre talking about LETHAL RIOTS being dispursed, before LAW ABIDING citizens (prison guards) are hurt, or killed... I'm sick of reading comments from Hippies... I bet your all from california... Go hug a damned tree...

      August 24, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
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