back to article Inmate-frying microwave pain blaster turret installed in US jail

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 …

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  1. Leeroy
    Joke

    Protection..

    I can see the prison price of baking foil going through the roof. Tin foil hats for all :)

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Bad Idea.

      Metal and microwaves do not mix, especially on the body. Why else would they tell you not to throw metal in a nuker? They tend to absorb and channel electromagnetic energy (of which microwaves are a part), which cause the signature arcing that are usually a sign your oven is taking a serious hit. I imagine a person wearing a foil hat (be it tin or aluminum) would start to get a serious headache once that think cranks up.

  2. GettinSadda
    FAIL

    Name?

    "In its current incarnation the device is known as the Assault Intervention Device..."

    I bet many prisons officers just can't wait to get AIDs

  3. 2FishInATank
    Coat

    Hmmm

    I'm sure the inmates will be initially delighted to discover that the guards will be getting AIDs...

  4. JeffyPooh
    Joke

    From the Tin-foil Hat crowd

    They'll be all, "I told you so..." You watch.

    I suggest a tri-corner hat. That way it can be whipped-off ones' head and used as a trigonal reflector.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    what next?

    those explosive collars from that movie - y'know the one with the guy from highlander in it.

    Anon cos I can see the black helicopter hovering....

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      I believe the film you are thinking of

      is called 'Fortress'

      1. andyb 2
        Big Brother

        I was thinking...

        ....wedlock.

        Wiki link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedlock_(film)

        But this is more of an anti-escape device.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Coat

        I think it was the "intestinator"...

        ...rather than explosive collars; a device implanted in the stomach to cause pain.

        I'll get my coat....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Headmaster

          Explosive Collars

          You're most likley referring to the movie The Running Man with the Govenator.

          1. Michael 28
            Badgers

            Coneheads?

            .......but it might have been more to do with Mexican Border Control!

            Badgers, cos we don' need no steenkin' badgers!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Surprised no one's chirped up with...

              Battle Royale yet....

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Heh

    Well fortunately noone would ever misuse a device that can cause intense pain with out leaving permanent marks. Would they....

  7. peyton?
    Unhappy

    Simple solution

    More TVs. It's a fact that 72% of all fights are over who gets to control the remote. Tempers can understandably flare when its MTV's Real World versus Oprah.

    OK, so I made that up. But seriously?? I'm thinking a prison that offers a milder - but constant - disincentive to live there might be more effective than brief and intense bursts of punishment.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Maybe not

      "a prison that offers a milder - but constant - disincentive to live there might be more effective"

      Or it might put you in a more permanent state of being pissed off with just about everything, and more likely to start fights with anyone within close enough range.

  8. hplasm
    Terminator

    I imagine-

    that this will look like a dalek device, with scary looking disks along the barrel, perhaps a glowing helix or a small parabolic reflector somewhere on it. Plus silvery globes in different sizes in scary SF clusters.

    Or I will be quite disappointed...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not too surprising

    considering that the general public in the US can quite legally buy, and use, ammunition that it would be considered a war crime to fire at an enemy soldier.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Sir

      We find the defendant guilty as charged.

      Sentence is 10 years maximum security prison, and a dose of cancer.....really?

    2. TeeCee Gold badge
      Grenade

      Re: not too surprising

      Ah, that old chestnut.

      You'll be talking about exposed core or "dumdum" rounds, designed to flatten on impact. Banned for military use, totally legal for civil use. Also used by preference by the majority of the world's police forces and with good reason. When shooting at a miscreant in a civil environment it is extremely undesirable that the round fired passes through the target and on to hit anything else behind it! Best practice here is to have whatever it is give up most, if not all, its kinetic energy when it runs into the first thing encountered along its trajectory.

      Meanwhile, the world's military have moved en masse to usiing deformable nose or "tumbling" bullets which, while still legal for military use, are far nastier as regards what they do to the poor bastard on the receiving end.

      Horses for courses once you take the "ooo iz war crimez yes?" tabloid language out of it.

      1. David Eddleman

        No.

        "You'll be talking about exposed core or "dumdum" rounds"

        You're talking about hollow-point rounds, I think. I haven't heard anyone use the term "dumdum" rounds in a long time. They have a divot in the center of the bullet, nose-first, along with cuts down the sides to adjust how they expand.

        "Meanwhile, the world's military have moved en masse to usiing deformable nose or "tumbling" bullets"

        No, most of the militaries out there use either regular FMJ (full metal jacket) rounds or steel-core rounds. "Deformable" noses would be soft-point bullets, which are mostly used by hunters. Steel core rounds are for extra stability to the round as well as imparting a mild armor-piercing effect (although true AP rounds have hardened steel penetrator cores and a steel jacket).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Flame

        Shoot to kill, always?

        "When shooting at a miscreant in a civil environment it is extremely undesirable that the round fired passes through the target and on to hit anything else behind it!"

        And by happy coincidence the bullet blows inside innocent bystander and literally blows him dead. Because we always shoot to kill, right? If you weren't meant to be dead, too bad for you.

        More bullets hit the innocent people than go throught the intended targets but who cares, eh?

        Obviously police force doesn't. Nor the writer.

        1. Rattus Rattus

          Well, yes, shoot to kill

          because you should never ever point a gun at someone you are not intending to kill. "Shoot-to-wound" isn't a wise policy, it leads to misses and possible hits on bystanders. Conversely, a police officer should not draw a gun in the first place unless he has made the decision to kill. After drawing he might not end up having to kill, which is great, but that gun should stay in it's holster until he has decided.

    3. Squirrel
      WTF?

      erm

      What has expanding bullets got to do with anything?

      Yes, they are used in hunting in ALL counties I can think of including the UK and by most police forces. If you're going to shoot something you want to kill it as quickly and cleanly as possible, that means using expanding ammo that increases hydraulic shock, and localised tissue damage, minimises pass-thru and ricochets and basically gets the job done.

      Now what has that got to do with microwaving US prisoners?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Instantly-blinding weapon

    Why nobody mentions that? If you direct a milimeter wavelength beam at eyes, cornea and lens are going to be heated up very quickly (especially given lack of blood supply that could cool the latter down), and will darken just as in cataract.

    Have a look here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7897988

  11. LawLessLessLaw
    Boffin

    just you wait

    for the prison break

  12. Bo Pedersen
    Thumb Up

    awesome caption

    YOW! indeed

    poached inmates all round then?

    reminds me of superman 3 with that wonderful homebuild PC's security system :)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Title.

    A society should not be judged on how it treats its outstanding citizens but by how it treats its criminals.....Fyodor Dostoyevsky

  14. David Neil

    @ AC 11:54

    What, like shotgun shells?

    The question with this tech should be how it's use is audited, given many US prisons are run by private companies.

  15. Charles Osborne

    You sure it's not "Yum!"

    They're just saying "Yow" because they are enjoying the fresh microwave popcorn.

  16. NightFox

    Stream'n'Scream

    Stick a web cam on this, allow remote control over the Internet and you can get rid of all your prison guards in one go - just hand over monitoring and control of the prisons to the public. I for one would be willing to commit some of my time and bandwidth to this. Sure beats my USB foam missile launcher thing. Heck, bring this to the Wii and it's a great way to get the kids involved in justice.

    And before any lefty-liberal starts crying about over the potential misuse of the system, you could have voluntary moderators who award points based on whether a blast of the ray was legitimate or over-judicious. Besides, Wikipedia etc has shown that despite the abusers, the Internet is pretty good at governing itself.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Stream'n'Scream

      Good grief. You sure do sound enthusiastic about it, bub.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      @NightFox

      Since when did showing humanity towards our fellow man and an opposition to the wholesale torture of defenceless, imprisoned people become "lefty-liberal"?

      Big Brother because Orwell could have used this guy.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Marcus...

        ...I think he forgot the joke icon....I hope.

    3. Hollerith 1

      Shirley

      Surely the act of wanting to mointor prisoners and to use this device is automatic grounds to bar them from this.

      I would not want to be a colleague of someone who looked forward to spying on and hurting, at no risk to himself, someone who was trapped. Sort of like torturing rats in a maze. Rats aren't very nice, but legislation protects even them from wanton cruelty.

      1. Rattus Rattus

        Complete tangent here

        but rats are actually pretty cuddly, friendly and playful. Wild rats aren't so much, but then neither are wild dogs or wild cats. And rats in a maze generally aren't being tortured. So, um, simile fail all around.

        I do agree completely though that actually wanting to use these devices should automatically bar one from ever using them.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @NightFox

      "And before any lefty-liberal starts crying about over the potential misuse of the system"

      You don't have to be a liberal to see 'potential' issues.

      "voluntary moderators who award points based on whether a blast of the ray was legitimate or over-judicious"

      No, I can't see any potential problems there either!

      "Besides, Wikipedia etc has shown that despite the abusers, the Internet is pretty good at governing itself."

      What? Now you really are showing yourself to be stupid.

  17. Andy 97
    Big Brother

    How long before it's installed in cells?

    Seems that if this works a governor could easily add this to certain cells to deal with 'difficult' prisoners.

    The U.S becomes more like some of the films it produces every week.

  18. Arkasha

    Where do I sign up

    to the US prison service? I'd have sooo much fun with that! Muawahahahahaha!

  19. Tom 38 Silver badge
    Go

    Sounds cruel and unusual to me

    Enjoy the lawsuits.

  20. kain preacher

    Um

    Most prisons in the US are run by the government . Prisons run by corporations in the US are not as common as some posters here think.

    Oh to the people that think this device is barbaric you need to look at the alternative of not using this device . In places like the yard this is how it works when a fight breaks out . When the guard sees a fight he sounds an alarm. Any one still standing when the alarm goes off gets shot . In confined areas they send in a team. Any one still standing when the alarm goes off gets hit with a night stick.

    Cell extractions. This when a prisoner refuses to come out of the cell. There are two options .

    Option one the use of force. You have a cell extraction time rush in and use night sticks to get to comply , at this point he is dragged out and cuffed . Option two. You toss pepper spray in the cell. When the prisoner can't take it any more and comes out , the prisoner will be slammed to the ground and then cuffed .

    1. Hollerith 1

      And since all of these methods seem to be effective?

      Why do you need to add another?

    2. TimeMaster T
      Big Brother

      Title!

      one thing your forgetting. When the guards shoot they are aiming for the ones still standing so those are the only ones who get hit unless the guards aim is way off.

      These ray guns are AREA EFFECT weapons, they will hit everyone, including those who are not involved and complying with the drop directive.

      Its not like a laser pointer, it is a spot light.

      Whats more barbaric;

      shoot those who disobey an order with full knowledge of what will happen if they don't.

      or

      subject uninvolved people to such extreme pain that if they were enemy soldiers it would be considered torture?

      Once this is accepted as "OK" to use against criminals it will be used against group involved in an "illegal activity", like having a public demonstration without a permit.

      I give it a year or so before its rolled out to a demonstration or concert for crowd control.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Flame

      "device" is a weapon, not a device.

      "Oh to the people that think this device is barbaric you need to look at the alternative of not using this device "

      Yes. Obviously you haven't.

      Being shot is nothing compared to being cooked alive, eyes first. You try it and tell then which is more barbaric. I see this even worse than tazer, which is polices favorite toy nowdays: "see how they squirm funnily!" If the victim dies, it's an "accident" and no-one is prosecuted. Happens every other day in US alone.

      Tazer leaves marks, this one doesn't so the reason to use it is even less than for tazer which is widely used for fun already, by the police.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    And then came the lawsuits

    Can't anyone at that prison see where this is going?

    (1) Fire radiation device at inmates, without any long-term studies of the effects of such radiation.

    (2) 15-20 years down the road, several inmates develop cancer.

    (3) Inmates file class-action lawsuit against prison, alleging ray-gun-caused cancer.

    (4) Idiot jurors award multi-billion dollar settlement against prison. Prison goes bankrupt. Prisoners become rich.

    Why can no one in charge see this?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Cancer - ok?

      "(4) Idiot jurors award multi-billion dollar settlement against prison. Prison goes bankrupt. Prisoners become rich."

      Idiot jurors? Being given cancer is now ok is it, just because you are a prisoner?

  22. Phil Rigby
    Joke

    Great idea.

    I always thought we should have a Running Man-type prison system. Or Speedball, played with inmates - the survivors get to go free. Sell the TV rights to Sky, and the proceeds go to improving the prison system. Could be interesting :-)

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One thing no one seems to have asked about this...

    Is what happens if you don't move out of the way or more to the point, can't move out of the way.

    It is like sitting in an oven as described? Would you cook?

    Not so non-lethal now eh?

  24. David Eddleman

    Prison

    "in use at a prison in Los Angeles"

    Gotta be San Quentin, then. That place is full of some really insane criminals. Just ask Danny Trejo.

    1. jake Silver badge

      @David Eddleman

      San Quentin's in San Rafael (OK, it's technically it's own town, just East of Larkspur Landing, to be pedantic), on the lovely San Francisco Bay. Los Angeles is about 400 miles away to the South, by road.

      Besides, the real wack-jobs are housed at Pelican Bay, Corcoran & Atwater (at least here in California). San Quentin's main claim to fame is that it houses California's "Death Row", at least for male inmates.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Can't be.

      San Quentin is closer to San Francisco. And Folsom's closer to Oakland. Pelican Bay is up near the Oregon line. The most likely candidate is State Prison, LA County.

    3. JoeTheAnnoying
      Stop

      Geography lesson

      Er... San Quentin is in Marin county, just north of San Francisco. That's roughly 400 miles (640 km) north of Los Angeles.

      I know, because I have to drive my kids past it every time they want to go to the Discovery Museum.

      There's gotta be a joke in there somewhere, but I don't see it...

    4. LateNightLarry
      Coat

      Prison

      San Quentin is just east of San Rafael, CA, not in LA area. There is actually a village of San Quentin, which is outside the prison, and then the prison. The inmates generally use an accommodation address of Tamal, CA, to somewhat hide the fact they're guests of the taxpayers.

      The "really insane" prisoners are mostly locked up in the California Medical Facility (CMF) near Vacaville, CA. Charles Manson is a guest at CMF.

      getting my coat so the screws can be sure I'm not smuggling a prisoner out in the pocket.

      1. jake Silver badge

        @LateNightLarry

        Nope. Charlie's at Corcoran.

        California State Prison, Solano (Vacaville) is mostly full of idiots who got caught being stupid.

        California Medical Facility, Vacaville, is a different facility (housed on the same campus) full of idiots that got caught being stupid ... but for the most part being stupid whilst off their meds. Thus the "medical" in the name.

        Strange thing ... My dawgs far prefer the company of the folks at CMFV to the company of the folks at CSPS ... Seems that they can sense the difference between a chemical imbalance and folks who are genuinely anti-social ...

  25. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    @Um

    Thats like the arguments for Tazers - it's a better alternative than shooting someone dead.

    But it soon becomes an easier alternative to talking to someone - hence the list of tazering of little old ladies for parking violations or while lying in an hospital intensive car bed.

    So how long before these safe / no-lethal devices are used by the police every G8 demonstration?

    Or installed in every shopping mall car park to stop skate borders, or schools are allowed to use them to stop kids talking in class?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      yes yes yes

      I work in a supemarket, if i see 5 or 6 kids, messing around on the carpark, id be first in line to press the button to remove them from my carpark, bonus points if its portable, or installed in the store.

      /mutter mutter, check proof of age before selling beer indeed, just nuke the kids when the walk in wearing hoodies with hands in there pockets.....

      franc.

      (ok, so i dont care if they know who i am)

    2. genome

      this is a title

      dont cook me bro! dont cook me!

  26. Tigra 07
    Thumb Up

    Should make Cops more fun to watch

    How long before the American cops get them in the form of taser-like weapons they can fire at pensioners and kids?

  27. TimeMaster T
    Coat

    This is one of those times ...

    I hate it when I'm right. As soo as I heard that the US Army was not going to use these things I said it would be 9-12 months before it was in place for use against US citizens. Took less time than I thought.

    But it's all right, the Geneva Convention doesn't say anything about torturing your own citizens, and they are only criminals after all. Who is going to care about them? </sarcasm>

    Once its accepted to use these things against criminals in jail they will deploy them to "control" Public Demonstrations.

    Mine's the one with the microwave reflective lining and the matching hat.

  28. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Happy

    homebrew

    you know - it ought to be possible to knock up one of these things from an old microwave oven...

  29. kain preacher

    @@Um

    Yes I rather they use this then shoot. They use riffle rounds that can and have gone through people and shot some one not involved. Guards have missed and shot the wrong person.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Yet another way to kill prisoners without guns.

    "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 don't have any doubt on this. You don't move very far with fried brains.

    "We hope"? Either he's an idiot or he have no idea about the mechanism which microwaves works.

    Shooting the prisoners immediately would be more human, but these little nazis like Osborne are always keen to invent new ways of killing people.

  31. binner
    FAIL

    third possibility

    "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.

    or the pain may provide the the impetus or motivation to up the level of violence, but that point wouldn't work as well in a sales pitch.

  32. Alastair Rae
    Terminator

    Welcome to the 21st Century

    Remote controlled pain inflicting devices in the ceiling? OMG we're in the scary future. All they need to do now is replace the guards with AI.

  33. skeptical i

    Sheriff Joe must be green with envy that he didn't get one first.

    Self- proclaimed "World's Toughest Sheriff" of Maricopa County, AZ, Joe Arpaio would waste no time in making political hay of such an acquisition.

  34. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

    Electricity

    I personally think that if all else fails, a taser-like solution is probably still better and to date it appears to have been something already quite tried and true. At least this is what I would prefer happen to me, compared to the alternatives ie being shot, clubbed down or microwaved.

  35. Nameless Faceless Computer User
    WTF?

    That's sick

    Someone hasn't been doing their homework. High energy microwaves cause health problems and damage to internal organs. They can cause brain damage and vision loss.

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