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. Robert W.

    The old way was to hit them in the head with billy sticks or fist. I don't know, which is better.

    August 24, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Herpi Harrison

    Inmates are also gods children. Just another sick idea from very cruel sick persons. For positive results one must inject positive ideas not this type of rubbish

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

    Murderers,rapist,child molesters,zap them with full strength,long hard and repeatedly.Burn their butts good.Make them feel the pain they have caused others and let`s stop housing them,feeding them,providing them with medical attention,and pretending they are human.They really don`t deserve to live.

    August 24, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. NickB5

    "THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

    THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

    THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

    THEN THEY CAME for me
    and by that time no one was left to speak up."

    August 24, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Troy from S'port

      Yay! You can copy and paste from Wikipedia.

      August 24, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      Bloody inmates in CA already have more rights, more, free time, better Medical care and more food than me. Now the Gov has pulled 3 furlough days again, it's looking better and better.

      August 25, 2010 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. snowcone

    This is a complete travesty. What a waste of money. It is much cheaper and more effective to use bullets to stop brawling inmates. We really shouldn't be wasting time, money, or energy trying to find Non-lethal ways to subdue prison inmates, when existing, lethal methods, are much more efficient and effective. And gratifying.

    August 24, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jeff

    the prime reason for criminality is SOCIAL INJUSTICE, wasting money on weapons of repression is the stupidest human move possible, get rid of social injustice is the only way to go. That is along the same line of stupidity than the republican thugs with bush that ruined our nation on that moron war of irak, when our economy is down due to the 8 years bush administration disaster and outsourcing.

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

      Moron war of irak? Did I miss the release of a new game?

      August 24, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. walye

    ALL your ray guns are belong to us ! And there aint nothin, nothin I tellz ya, that you can do about it 🙂
    just dEaL with it, or get zappered !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 24, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. doh

    how about testing the new military bombs on these losers....

    August 24, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Larry

    How it works

    August 24, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. danbeaches

    They are kidding right ...I mean the machine is fine but in the hands of sadistic jailers who can't even use a taser appropriately but this is America so I guess to reduce violence in our ever growing penal industry it is just an inevitability.

    August 24, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. danbeaches

    How long before we start using them on everyday know the rowdy types like the people who get irate when cited for speeding...

    August 24, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dereck

    I can't say that I'm in favor of this thing being deployed ANYWHERE in the country, even in prisons. I highly doubt it will be misused in this test phase, but only because of extraordinary monitoring. If it becomes widespread it WILL BE ABUSED! Just look at the Tazer, it started out only being used in place of shooting a person. These days Law Enforcement will use a tazer at the drop of a hat. Using what can arguably be caused a torture device on people for being loudmouths, photographing officers, sitting with their arms crossed, etc. Then there are the deaths, they have to be in the hundreds, if not thousands, by now. And they initially said that tazers were perfectly safe, I bet this "heat beam" will be no different. Both have their uses to be sure, but only in an environment where those using them are held accountable for their actions, which we are FAR from having in this country.

    August 24, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. muggles

    Joseph Mengele would be proud!

    August 24, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Andrey

    Too bad 24 has been canceled. I'm sure Jack Bauer would have a jolly great time strapping down some Middle Eastern punk in front of this puppy and then letting him squirm under full power till the guy broke or cooked to a crisp for our entertainment!!!

    August 24, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. NickB5

    I love how the economy is still in the crapper but California still finds tax money for junk like this.

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