Posted: 08/26/10 06:00 AM
A new non-lethal device is coming to an LA County jail. The LA County Sheriff’s Department is calling it an Assault Intervention Device, but it’s more commonly known as a “pain ray,” and was originally developed by the military for use in Afghanistan. The device uses microwave technology to heat up moisture just below the skin, creating a sensation akin to a burn. But the pain is supposed to go away within seconds of moving out of the beam’s ray. The LA County Sheriff’s Department plans to start testing it in a dormitory at the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic, Calif., as a means to break up inmate brawls in common areas. We speak with Commander Robert Osborne, head of the LA County Sheriff’s Department’s Technology Exploration Program, about why he sees the pain ray as a better and safer alternative to traditional methods of breaking up prison fights. And we talk with Brookings Institution senior fellow Peter W. Singer about why the US military developed the pain ray and then decided not to use it after all.