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. Mike

    The newest tool to get people to shut up and pay taxes. This is how democracy the sounds of bacon

    August 25, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mario

    This sounds kinda cool! lol!

    August 25, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. targeted

    I've been the target of rudimentary "non-lethal weapons" for almost two years. My experience has demonstrated to me quite clearly that they are not "non-lethal", and more importantly, they are the last resort of a morally weak society that has forgotten the value of real justice. The social malaise endemic within the modern prison system is the product of the prison system, and to a larger extent, our social values. We are heading down a path that will make prison brawls look like Sunday picnics.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |





      August 25, 2010 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JFairweather

    Fry both the victim and the assailant? At least it would stop the fight.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Danny Lee Shaw II

    I hope all of you have done some research into this device. This is a device that the military, who spend millions building it, decided not to use against our worst enemies. We should not be using it against our worst citizens! The device is only harmless if the "combatant" gets out of the way. If they do not, the device has been known to cause skin blisters and cancer has not been ruled out completely.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jtt

    yea and Tasers will not kill anyone, love the cops man

    August 25, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Penny

    Women have been enduring hot flashes forever. About time someone harnessed that power and put it to use.

    August 25, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dennis

    This will work fine on unruly inmates.Or they could be transferred to Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Maricopa County jail and stay all day and night and see highs of 113+ during the summer months.That blast furnace heat from the Sonoran Desert never cools down enough to find it tolerable.That will take the anger out of these misfits!

    August 25, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. David Jenkins

    At the 1990 National Prayer Breakfast, George H.W. Bush praised Doug Coe for what he described as “quiet diplomacy, I wouldn't say secret diplomacy,” as an “ambassador of faith.” Coe has visited nearly every world capital, often with congressmen at his side, “making friends” and inviting them back to the Family's unofficial headquarters, a mansion (just down the road from Ivanwald) that the Family bought in 1978 with $1.5 million donated by, among others, Tom Phillips, then the C.E.O. of arms manufacturer Raytheon, and Ken Olsen, the founder and president of Digital Equipment Corporation. A waterfall has been carved into the mansion's broad lawn, from which a bronze bald eagle watches over the Potomac River.

    August 25, 2010 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Crash2Parties

    Heh, heh. Remember when these were first introduced and we were promised that they'd not be used on Americian civilians? We're inching closer...

    August 25, 2010 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |





    August 25, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |




    August 25, 2010 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jimmy. \m/......\m/ San Jose

    I'm not real proud of this But, 15 years ago I made some pretty big mistakes and was sent to prison
    (real prison not county) I have seen these fights, I've seen the individuals who are responsible for them & I've seen the participants..Shoot them all...Save us all a headache & some money, The yard I was on had signs posted that said
    "Live Fire Area" and they wern't kiddin'. Sometimes the only way to stop these guys is with the threat of death..And shooting a couple of fighting inmates every once in a while really does get their attention.
    (And, No I never meet Bubba & I never went back)

    August 25, 2010 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Michael Lubin

    Oh, great. Another law enforcement torture device. Any bets on how long before they somebody "misuses" this device for something completely unrelated to breaking up fights?

    August 26, 2010 at 12:40 am | Report abuse |
  15. Ken

    The guards face..... so casual about wielding a totally advanced weapon. Reminds me of my old bishop: Speaks of tall things, speaks with small emotions... VERY TRUE STUFF, THAT MORMONISM *cough cough*

    August 26, 2010 at 1:46 am | Report abuse |
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