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Officially, it's called the Assault Intervention Device, and what it does is fire off a focused, non-lethal beam of energy at the target, which in this case will be inmates trading blows with each other. But even though it's not a deadly laser, prison officers describe the sensation as "excruciatingly painful."
"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," said Bob Osborne, Commander of the Sheriff's Department of Technology Exploration Program. "I equate it to opening an oven door and feeling that blast of hot air, except instead of being all over me, it's more focused.
"And you begin to feel this warming feeling, and then you go 'Yow, I need to get out of the way,'" Osborne added.
Plans are in place to mount the device on the ceiling at Pitches Detention Center at Los Angeles County Jail, home to some 65 convicts.
"This device will allow us to quickly intervene without having to enter the area and without incapacitating or injuring either combatant," said Sheriff Lee Baca in a statement.