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Sheriff's Department urged not to equip jailers with device that creates burning sensation

A civil liberties organization is urging the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to zap its plans for equipping jailers with a direct-energy device that creates an intense burning sensation when pointed at human targets.

Sheriff’s officials expect the tool to help deputies stymie outbreaks of violence, allowing just a few jailers to break up large-scale brawls.

"Unnecessarily inflicting severe pain and taking such unnecessary risks with people’s lives is a clear violation" of constitutional rights, said an ACLU official in a release.

A spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department said their hopes for the high-tech device are in line with the ACLU’s goals: to save lives, and to do so without inflicting injury.

"It was used on me at least a half-dozen times in a matter of minutes without any ill effects whatsoever," said spokesman Steve Whitmore. He described the sensation as an instant burning that ceases the moment an individual is directed out of the beam’s path.

The department plans on installing the device as part of a pilot program in a 65-bed module of the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic within the next couple of months.

According to the ACLU, a military incarnation of the device caused “lasting burns” for five members of the Air Force.

The device the Sheriff’s Department is installing is a scaled-down version, which uses tiny waves that penetrate the skin from almost 100 feet away, causing an intolerable burning sensation that prompts individuals to flee.

-- Robert Faturechi

Comments () | Archives (14)

Why does the ACLU care so much about criminals.If a riot starts in the jail and this device could be used to stop the riot without harm to deputies or other immmates.It should be used.

I love ACLU, but I'm not with them on this one.

I believe that this is the best way to deal with riots.

Now if a device like this could be directed at the ACLU every time they challenged a legitimate effort to quell violence among violent prisoners......

This device could also be used for criminal purposes, namely assault and torture. Considering the agency that proposes to use it, I consider that almost certain. Also, the device uses microwaves, not "heat rays" as many have reported.

This sounds awesome. I can't wait to see it in action on a You Tube post. Where do they sell them at? If I could get one to use as a gag gift at my next office meeting, wow talk about hilarious.

LOVE the ACLU, but they are on the wrong side of this controversy. Imagine how much faster the guards can stop some inmate from beating the tar out of another. They could get there, 5 seconds sooner with this device than trying to do so on foot. That could save some inmate from dying. The fact a different version left 5 burns proves nothing. although I will bet in a few years they find the skin that is "rayed" is subject to cancer....

If the jailers feel more confortable entering the prison when the immates are out of their cells I wonder if it would cut down on prison rapes. Is being raped better than an imaginary burning feeling?

Nah...not good enough! Flame throwers would be better.

While I appreciate people checking authority figures we pay to protect us in their use of weapons, I think sometimes they forget the alternatives as they get upset about the newest technology. They cry that tasers kill, ignoring that old-fashioned bullets and batons cause more grievous harm. They cry that these devices cause "unnecessary pain," but I'd say that's better than then senseless deaths of a prison riot. People should not be calling for the banning of tools, but strict monitoring of the use of them.

Maybe the ACLU should trade places with the officers in these jails and see if the ACLU would use a deice like this if they had to break up a riot.

And how much is it going to cost the first time a prisoner takes a chair to one of these things?

Sounds like a money grab to me. Let’s see. We need to buy the things. We will need one for every prisoner area ready to go. Maybe a guard manning it? If it is not manned it is of no use. Then time off work for the guards to train and the guards training costs. A bump in the guards pay because they are now certified to use it. The cost of maintaining them. Perhaps a staff position to keep them going. You know the prisoners are going to want to trash these things. The cost of the lawyers to fight all the litigation. If the guards spend ten minutes fiddling with the machine instead of knocking head there will be big dollars involved. The fund to pay out the awards from the litigation.
So, a ton of money we don’t have for little or no benefit. In real life a dead duck. In government a sure thing.

This would be the Air Force trying to find a use for their "Active Denial" microwave weapon after spending hundreds of millions on it only to discover that it was, all along, in violation of the 1925 Geneva Protocol against cruel weapons.

This would be the Air Force trying to find a use for their "Active Denial" microwave weapon after spending hundreds of millions on it only to discover that it was, all along, in violation of the 1925 Geneva Protocol against cruel weapons.


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