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. Steven P

    Mustard gas is cheaper. Much cheaper.

    August 24, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steven P

      Sarcasm alert.

      August 24, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Yupps

    well, as long as it's monitored, let's hope some good.... nah, this is just a waste of money. In my opinion, those in jail who don't obey the rules (minus those who suffer the wrath of corrupt correctional officers, etc.) should get a beat down. Spend that time and energy and money on something that matters... say THE Gov't DEFICIT???

    August 24, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      They are practicing on the inmates. They've already tested it on the soldiers. This is to be used by police on the citizens, and anyone who can't see that is dense.

      August 24, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jim

    "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."

    Or they could just say it shoots microwaves. Must have been told not to use the word microwave in the article out of fear of human rights lawsuits.

    August 24, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • kurt

      They didn't say microwave because it is a different wavelength than what most people think of when they think microwave. The wave length concentrates the energy in the upper layer of skin causeing you to feel like you put your hand on the stove. If someone were to stand there and take the ray for a long time they would probably endup with a mild sunburn but nobody that can move would be able to stay there that long.

      August 24, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Moe Smith


    August 24, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mac

    For those upset about a NONLEATHAL military weapon that has been SCALED BACK for civillian law enforcement use. The alternative is to use real bullets.
    Please remember that we are talking about hard criminals (rapists, murderers, child molesters, gang-bangers, etc...) people that are not there for selling a little dope and need a second chance.

    August 24, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      honestly i would prefer real bullets... real bullets have real consequences for the officers during the action. I.E. the use of excesive force. what's to stop excesive use of a non leathal technology, that leaves no trace?

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

      We get it, you or someone you know is "locked up". Well tell them to AVOID rioting, listen to the Officers, and they will not be Microwaved! (Read the article 3 times now and still don't see the word microwave)

      August 24, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Gameboy

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

    August 24, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. James

    I think this is necessary, how else would they know if it works on a civilian population or not.
    Seriously, testing on the homeless only yielded poor results due to malnutrition, but Inmates are more similar to regular civilians.

    All Hail the NWO.

    August 24, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Steve-O

    Can't we install a few of these on the borders?!

    August 24, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al

      Steve; I am sure the illiegals come at night, and I purport this thing uses the sun....

      August 24, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mark

    But if the Officer is in the bonus round and only needs 4 more golden coins to get to Zaydon, will he be encouraged to keep the heat beam going?

    August 24, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. dur

    To the ones who are tryin9 to say the article didn't make sense when the word, "attemptin9" was are stupid! Read the sentence. "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..." inmates threw rocks at OFFICERS [why?] b/c the officers were attemptin9 to stop the inmates from enterin9 a restricted area. This makes perfect sense 9rammatically. And for the record it doesn't state "the hour lon9 brawl lasted an hour", it says, "the brawl lasted an hour before tear 9as etc was used."

    August 24, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |

    @Mac " hard criminals (rapists, murderers, child molesters, gang-bangers, etc...) "

    Its county Jail.
    You have some traffic violators, DWI people, marijuana offenders, delinquent tax payers, it could easily be anyone in there. Its not all hard core criminals.

    Also, NEWS FLASH!!! THEY PUT SMALL TIME OFFENDERS IN WITH HARD CORE CRIMINALS TOO. Unless you're rich you go in with the Gang members and rapist.

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

      So don't fight or riot and you'll likely be unharmed. BTW, County Jail is WHERE the Murderers, Rapists, Gang-Bangers, and Robbers, go when they are initially arrested! (Takes about 2 years before trials and transfers to State Prison).

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


      So if some guy is trying to get in your pants, your not going to fight????

      August 24, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |


      Also you proved my point, the other person said that only rapist ....killers ...ect... are in the jail. Which is untrue, If a killer and a jaywalker get arrested in the same area chances are they are going to the same jail.

      People like to pretend that thoes people are the worst of the worst, that's why they're allowed to experiment with these weapons.

      August 24, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Burbank

    I think they should leave the beam on and just cook them and feed them to the Zombies, save the taxpayer millions in having to pay to support them.

    August 24, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Joe

    This will be used for public crowd control, you just wait. At some point very soon, if we haven't already reached that point, the citizens will no longer have any measure of control, right-to-bear-arms laws will be pointless, and "We the People" are in for some very, very dark times.

    August 24, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bruce

    Yeah right, a "heat beam". It's called a maser I believe...and you can make one at home in a couple of hours if you don't mind taking apart your microwave oven. But hey, let's call it a "heat beam", we wouldn't want people to realize how messed up we are: we're cooking people for crowd control purposes.

    August 24, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gr8tScot121GW

      Bruce, I guarantee that building one of these systems out of a microwave oven is not possible. Standard microwave ovens operate at a frequency of ~2.45 GHz and this system operates at frequencies much higher than that. These higher frequencies prevent microwave energy from penetrating the skin unlike your microwave oven. If you tried to build one of these weapons out of a microwave oven, it wouldn’t have the desired effect of making the person want to move without hurting them. Also, the author of this article probably didn’t know about this being a microwave system. The scientific stuff was probably way over their head so they stuck with writing what they know.

      August 24, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kerry Berger

    Perhaps more important than employing new technologies to stop the brawling is to identify and eliminate the root causes for the brawling, such as over-crowding, no exercise, no activities or work to keep people busy and general inhumane treatment in America's penal system. It is time for Amnesty International to take a close look at the US system that has abandoned rehabilitation for anachronistic harsh sentences.

    August 24, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
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