A microwave "pain ray" energy weapon, deemed too controversial for US military use in Iraq, has nonetheless gone into service. A trial installation is in use at a prison in Los Angeles for the purpose of quelling fights among the inmates.
"We hope that this type of technology will either cause an inmate to stop an assault or lessen the severity of an assault by them being distracted by the pain as a result of the beam," Commander Bob Osborne of the LA County Sheriff's Department told the Los Angeles Daily News.
"I equate it to opening an oven door and feeling that blast of hot air... you begin to feel this warming feeling, and then you go 'Yow, I need to get out of the way.'"
In its current incarnation the device is known as the Assault Intervention Device and it is reportedly a ceiling-mounted installation remotely controlled by prison staff using CCTV and a joystick. The Device is said to put out a beam "about the size of a CD" to distances of up to 100 feet, hopefully quelling any disturbance among the prisoners without the delay which results when a team of deputies must be assembled to use traditional whomping or other conventional enforcement methods.
Despite the new name and job, however, the Device is none other than the latest iteration of what was formerly known as the Active Denial System, a riot-busting fry-ray mounted on a Humvee or a truck for military use in crowd control overseas. Despite many requests for it from US commanders in Iraq, the ADS never saw frontline service there - doubtless due to well-founded concern over the headlines that might have ensued. The "pain ray" would surely have resulted in more negative coverage than any number of shootings and bombings.
The deployment in the Los Angeles jail is a trial by the National Institute of Justice, the R&D arm of the US Justice Department - and home, among other things, of the handheld microwave heat-ray "rifle".
If deemed successful, the inmate-roasting ceiling raygun turrets may be rolled out to other US jails.
The Daily News report is here. ®