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. Dr. Anthony Hayward

    It does smell strongly of Troll in here!! And Oil!! You guys made BP Fire me!! I SO ANGRY!! I think we should have used this device to ignite the oil and blow up the well instead of plugging it!

    August 24, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. David

    I am getting to where I hate you all, even the people I agree with. Life is nothing but constant strife, arguing, and postering. Someone kill me please and make it painful. I only get to die once.

    August 24, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joshua Ludd

    And then it will, after having been tested on prisoners, be rolled out into the streets to torture.. uh, I mean disperse protesters. Its another non-lethal technology to allow the police to more easily and thoroughly crack down on protests of any kind (against the government, but especially against the WTO, IMF, G8, G20, etc..) without there being footage of them beating and pepper spraying crowds of innocent people.

    August 24, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Joshua Ludd

    So.. how long till they start using this "intolerable heat" to punish or just to torture prisoners?

    August 24, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. sameeker

    Another torture device for the police.

    August 24, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      Useful for interrogation purposes: doesn't leave a damn trace on your skin...

      August 24, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Marvin the Martian

    Say your prayers puny Inmates!

    August 24, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DPMan

    Put all offenders to death..that will stop crime.

    August 24, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • keagster1313

      It is sad you actually believe that

      August 26, 2010 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Manny HM

    For inmates in a confined area. Cargo nets that drop down on fighting and rioting inmates is cheaper, reliable, and certainly effective. More research should be done on this low tech method.

    August 24, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mike

    Sounds like a good idea. Zap 'em!

    August 24, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. GR

    That's it. Microwave the inmates. Sounds like the latest is diabolical torture methods.


    August 24, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jbull

    Okay, they are criminals. Use it on them. Maybe they will think twice about wasting our tax dollars. Can we place them along the borders? That would be tax dollars spent for a better cause. Can't take the heat? Stay out of jail and any other place you don't belong.

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

      Hey buddy if anyone doesnt belong, its you! This is the last thing that needs to be introduced for added border security.

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

      LOVE IT!!! Not only does it get rid of criminals and illegals, lower our tax rate....but if the result tastes like chicken, we can finally end world hunger!

      August 24, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Adam

    Never mind its use on inmates. Soon enough this weapon will be used on protesters. I'd seen a show on this thing, and its supposed purpose is to be able to single out 'instigators' in a crowd. Well, I guess it's in the controller of the weapon to determine who the instigators are. Maybe it's the guy hurling rocks, maybe it's the lady with the bullhorn, maybe it's the kid holding up a sign.

    One problem I see with it is there is no accountability. One second you're standing there voicing your opinion, the next you're running in pain for no apparent reason. At least when a cop runs up on you and starts beating you with a club, that can be recorded on camera or recounted by witnesses.

    August 24, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • NickB5

      I couldn't agree with you more Adam.

      August 24, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • grofys

      adam, i was about to post similar info, but saw your comment. this is definitely coming to a legal protest near you; it's been in the works for years. the prison is just a testing ground. get your metal deflectors ready and stand closely together. oh, btw, when these weapons were tested for the military it was advised contact lenses and glasses be removed. do you think protesters will be given the opportunity to remove these, or just have their orbits fried? i'm thinking the latter.

      August 24, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      TinFoil hats and overcoats will become vouge for protesters 🙂

      Who'd have thought all those UFO nuts were just ahead of their time!

      August 25, 2010 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Fig1024

    How about we install several such devices in every jail, attach a web cam to the front, and provide web based control interface for targeting – make it like a game. Then advertise it online and charge people 10 bucks for 10 minutes of zapping inmates.

    It would be an instant mega hit!

    August 24, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. D

    Holy Microwave Oven Ray Gun, Batman!

    August 24, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Fiona

    Have we really reached such a low point, as humans, that this would not be considered cruel and unusual punishment? Would the idea be supportable if it were to be used on livestock, or as a dog training device? No. But for prisoners (or enemy combatants, or citizens of opposing countries) it's okay?

    Sick, sick, sick.

    August 24, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
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