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. Andy


    – A

    August 28, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. CTYank

    Apparently, this device transmits high-frequency microwaves. Millimeter-ish wavelengths vice centimeter-ish for microwave ovens (@2.5GHz) or surface-search radars like SPS-10 (5.5GHz) or the WWII-vintage "SS" radar (~9GHz).
    Both of these radars can cook internal organs of persons in the beam, it was found by accident.
    Concerning prisoners, my question is what this new crowd-control toy will do to things like eyes. And who will accept responsibility.

    August 28, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. drcid777

    Society has every right to control violent people and there are no good options when prisoners riot or attack.
    Closed, condescending minds will always have a knee-jerk reaction to any attempted improvements in these areas.
    Also, the ACLU's collective mind has been closed for decades now

    August 28, 2010 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. StoneCold

    Is there going to be a high score chart?

    August 28, 2010 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ybs

    We've spent enough money on prisoners. Keep it simple & stupid – an electric shock bracelet would be most cost effective.

    August 29, 2010 at 2:01 am | Report abuse |
  6. Blizblaz

    Some points:
    1. All the people who think everyone in jail should be summarily executed-don't pay a parking ticket, a warrant is issued and you'll spend at least the afternoon in county jail-it's that easy.
    2. How long before this device is used as a torture device with a person subjected to the beam while strapped down? It would be a good way to secure confessions-something that leaves no evidence of it's use-no marks, non-lethal, but excruciating. Remember Abu-Ghraib-those army personnel were mostly prison guards in civilian life.

    August 29, 2010 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
  7. mac

    I say let them fight and kill each other. The more they kill each other we the tax payer have to pay to suport them!

    August 29, 2010 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  8. diggit

    Sounds like the jail needs to be redesigned to prevent such brawls from happening. But instead they use this...

    August 29, 2010 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  9. Gregg

    L.A. jail tests 'intolerable heat' beam on brawling inmates and then at the bottom of the story they say they are waiting to hear from the prison reps if it was used. Where does CNN get these people?????????

    August 29, 2010 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  10. Dennis

    This is an awesome device ! They should use it at the Southern Border of the United States. It would certainly stop illegals from entering our Country. Just set up these devices in a crossing pattern of over lapping field for maximum coverage. This is just what is needed for the men and women to protect our Border.
    Crawl back under your rock Carl. There is a difference in Hateful and making sure the law breakers, criminals and there elements all of them are kept in check. Those in prison deserve to be there. Unless you would want these folks breaking into your home or other personal property to take what they want because it is the American way.............just be weak and give them what they want.
    A retired US Army veteran

    August 29, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. sdgman

    Oh that's fun.... I want one of those. I bet the deputies fought over who would get the training to be able to use the death ray device.

    August 29, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. piglizard

    Raytheon, innovators of the also non-lethal taser. Yeah, right.

    August 29, 2010 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. NO.




    August 29, 2010 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. someolebs

    Why mess around on prisoners with non-lethal solutions. We need to do what Larry Niven predicted for the future and start harvesting organs from criminals. Its called sarcasm but seriously anything non-lethal that keeps these fools inline all the better.

    August 30, 2010 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
  15. Lori

    Is this the same Active Denial System (ADS), aka: "Pain Ray" that I read about back in about May of 2009, one of several "non-lethal weapons" that the government "spent $386 million since it was formed in 1996, and created exactly zero useful non-lethal weapons" ??? The description of THAT model says it, "focuses microwaves on a target's skin to create intense pain without any lasting effect, does work, as several journalists found out when it zapped them during demonstrations a couple of years ago" and " After spending $55 million, the DoD decided not to deploy it overseas."

    This weapon focuses MICROWAVES to the skin, not just "intense heat waves" as this article calls them. Can that be safe?

    August 30, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
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