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September 13, 2010

"Zapping Inmates To Control Them: Harmless Or Torture?"

The title of this post is the headline of this recent NPR story which discusses the latest hot new technology that hopes to help to keep prisoners in line.  Here are excerpts:

Los Angeles authorities have unveiled a new high-tech device designed to control rowdy inmates: a mechanism that blasts millimeter beams that simulate intense heat. At the Pitchess Detention Center, north of Los Angeles, officials recently showed off their latest tool, which resembles a supersized dental X-ray machine with a flat screen on top. It works like something out of Star Trek.

"You know when they set their phasers to stun, they did that so they didn't kill people? Well, that's exactly what this is. It does stun you," says Mike Booen, a vice president of Raytheon Missile Systems. The company built the device for the Los Angeles County Jail, a scaled-down version of what it designed for the military.

"I don't care if you're the meanest, toughest person in the world," he says, "this will get your attention and make your brain focus on making it stop, rather than doing whatever you were planning on doing."...

Dave Judge, the operation deputy for the sheriff's department, says the machine is more effective than their usual methods of firing rubber bullets and tear gas grenades. "This is tame; this is mild," Judge says. "This is a great way to intervene without causing any harm. The nice thing about this is it allows you to intervene at a distance."...

Raytheon's Booen says the device sends out millimeter waves, creating a harmless, but intense sensation. "It penetrates about a 64th of an inch under your skin," Booen explains. "That's about where your pain receptacles are. So it's what it would feel like if you just opened up the doors of a blast furnace. You feel this wave of heat immediately."...

Three years ago, the Department of Defense demonstrated a bigger version of the device it considered using. During one simulation, it repelled a pretend group of protesters with the "Active Denial System" direct energy weapon mounted on a military vehicle.The U.S. Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Programs reportedly never actually used the device in Afghanistan, but a spokeswoman says they are considering related technology.

Now, Los Angeles has been given a smaller, civilian version of the same device free. But the ACLU says that's a bad idea. "We're going to use people in the jails as guinea pigs for some mega arms builder to test their device," ACLU attorney Peter Eliasberg says.

He sent a letter to L.A. Sheriff Lee Baca asking him to reconsider using what he says has the potential to be a torture device.... Eliasberg says some tests of the millimeter device have badly burned people with repeated zaps. And he notes that Los Angeles deputies have a documented history of abusing inmates. Eliasberg suggests a better solution would be to prevent the overcrowded conditions that trigger jail riots in the first place.

September 13, 2010 at 11:23 PM | Permalink

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Comments

The mechanism of this device and of torture is called negative reinforcement. One behavior is reinforced by making the discomfort stop, whether it is acting up or refusing to divulge information.

I suggest ending the high tech hypocrisy. I suggest the return of severe caning for disobedient or aggressive prisoners. Their scars will serve as a warning to others, as well, walking bill boards for compliance. Each assault should be charged and count toward 123D. Very few violent predators should make it out of prison alive after their term has elapsed. Prison should be a portal to the Other World for the majority of habitual violent offenders.

The families of crime victims have every moral and intellectual justification to apply a street caning to the ACLU, a mere Trojan Horse for the CCE. They only care about procedure and jobs for lawyers. They rarely defend anyone's rights, save those of left wing, big government rent seekers. They are totally biased in favor of the criminal, and care nothing for the rights of crime victims to be left alone.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 13, 2010 11:56:39 PM

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Posted by: T.O. | Sep 14, 2010 7:05:38 AM

No self-respecting police state should be without these devices.

Posted by: John K | Sep 14, 2010 12:14:15 PM

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