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. L

    Yes there should be some sort of control in prison where inmates are restricted from harming one another, but to use a device such as this is not right. They need to consider the aftermath of this device and one thing that comes to mind is CANCER.

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

    how about keeping these thugs inside the cell 18 hours or more in a 24 hour period....and if they mess up leave them in there longer....we all need to vote out any tree huggers who make laws and policies who want to give criminal more rights

    August 24, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mr Wrong

    It seems like some sort of shocking collar would be quite effective for higher risk individuals. Nothing like a slight correction to get the inmates back in line.

    August 24, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. John777

    Next the govt will ban heat ray guns so only crimminals will have heat ray guns. Just remember, heat ray guns don't fry eggs people fry eggs.

    August 24, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. rocket00

    What if the big guy just holds the little guy in front of the beam?

    August 24, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. krzycatlady

    does the end result taste like chicken?

    August 24, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • justin

      haha I dont know but I'd hate to eat a chicken tasting person

      August 27, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  7. Kevin

    I think instead of a beam that causes pain, they should create one that causes instant arousal. The psycological effects on two angry guys brawling would be friggin hilarious.

    August 24, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kookmyer

    If you kept prisoners in their cells 24 hours a day you wouldn't need a machine like this.

    August 24, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Troy from S'port

    I can't wait for the hand-held unit to come out next month; I'm going to take it to the mall.

    August 24, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dirty

    What happens when the inmates get their hands on the heat weapon?

    August 24, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gr8tScot121GW

      Probably a lot less than when they get their hands on the guards guns.

      August 24, 2010 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. vel

    It's a microwave device. So no, cancer isn't a likely result. If you think so, better get that oven out of your house. and if these criminals are so innocent, I'm suprised that none of those protesting is taking one home and I can just bet that if a prison was being built by your house, you'd be unhappy.

    August 24, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Al


    August 24, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. siranda

    I'm not sure why people are upset about a non-lethal weapon that will prevent inmates from killing EACH OTHER as well as the prison security people.

    August 24, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Andrew

    "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."

    ... What? "Wave energy"? What is "wave energy"? Why do they need to make it sound so complicated, it's rather simple, the weapon is LIGHT. It's traveling at the speed of light because it IS light. Why not just say "the device fires a lot of high intensity light at a target", there, simple as that. No "wave energy traveling at the speed of light" futuristic bs. If they wanted to sound so futuristic they could have at least broken into "it fires a steady narrow beam of high intensity high frequency photons at a target", but "focused beam of wave energy"?? It's statements like that which confuse people as to the nature of "energy". Energy does not exist in a vacuum, it isn't some tangible concept, it's a property of particles, much like color is a property of fabrics. You don't say it emits a focused beam of "wave spin" because it just sounds silly, same with "wave energy".

    August 24, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • ATMoore

      Because it doesnt emit light smart guy.

      August 24, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gr8tScot121GW

      Epic Fail. It emits microwaves, not light. Oh, and it IS a "beam of wave energy". Here is the definition of a microwave: an electromagnetic wave of extremely high frequency, 1 GH or more, and having wavelengths of from 1 mm to 30 cm ( Also, where were you going with this vacuum idea? The prison is not in a vacuum... Classic case of a person trying to sound smart on a topic he knows nothing about.

      August 24, 2010 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. siranda

    For the people who are crying cruelty to the prisoners, I'm not sure why people are upset about a non-lethal weapon that will prevent inmates from killing EACH OTHER as well as the prison security people. To the ones worried about civil rights violations, would you rather them just be able to beat each other to death?

    August 24, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
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