Prison Testing New Laser Beam On Inmates
It looks like something out of a video game, but this monstrous machine could come in very handy for breaking up prison fights.
The Assault Intervention Device (AID) emits an invisible laser-like beam to trigger a brief but painful burning sensation and has been touted as a new type of Taser gun.
Officials plan to set up the machine in a detention centre dormitory in Castaic, California, although it has not yet been given the green light by its federal sponsor.
The AID was first unveiled last summer, but its federal backers – the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) – have decided to review the project further before moving forward.
Non-lethal weapons such as ‘pain rays’ and Tasers are controversial and human rights groups fear they can be misused and may even be fatal on vulnerable people
‘This device allows us to stop a fight or lessen the severity of it without inflicting injury,’ Commander Bob Osborne, of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, said.
‘In terms of pain, it’s like brushing against a hot stove or an iron. You instinctively yank your hand away, and then you look at (your hand) and there’s nothing there.
‘You go: “Boy, that’s hot, but I’m not injured,” and that’s what we love about the device. All the other tools we have hurt people.’
A video shows Los Angeles prison guards having fun as they try it out on each other, despite the hit being ‘excruciatingly painful’.
The AID is a directed-energy weapon with a beam in the spectrum’s invisible range, which penetrates just 0.02inches (0.4mm) into the skin – down to pain receptors.
The machine is operated with a computer monitor, crosshair mark and joystick with a trigger.
It fires up to 100ft for a few seconds for each trigger press, and holding down the trigger will not produce continuous fire.
Manufacturers Raytheon say it does not cause burning or nerve damage. The firm also produces the Silent Guardian machine, which has been sold to the U.S. military.
The 7.5ft machine would be installed on trial in the North County Correctional Facility at the Pitchess Detention Center, which houses around 65 inmates.
But it has been criticised for being too bulky and expensive.
This device isn’t what we want the device of future to look like,’ Mr Osborne said. ‘It’s way too big and costly, it’s too hard to install and it has too much equipment.
‘Before anybody does a whole lot of work to miniaturise this thing, the question that needs to be asked is: “Does it work in real life?”
‘It works in labs and when people are pretending to be angry and violent, but we don’t know if it works if someone is really assaulting somebody.’
The trial is funded by the NIJ – the Department of Justice’s research, development and evaluation agency.
Mr Osborne added: ‘We’re not rooting for a fight to break out. But if violence does occur, we’d like to deal with it in an appropriate manner.’